Weekly Feature Archives

Tommy Caldwell is honest and vulnerable in his autobiography 'The Push'

Posted June 9, 2017

Tommy Caldwell's autobiography, The Push, is as daring as his multitude of world-class climbing accomplishments, which range from 5.14 and 5.15 sport routes around the world, and towering free ascents on Yosemite's El Capitan—including the first free ascent of the Dawn Wall (VI 5.14d) in January 2015 with Kevin Jorgeson—to the first completion of the Fitz Roy Traverse in Patagonia with Alex Honnold in 2014. Caldwell's writing is honest and vulnerable, which makes his moments of triumph even more inspiring.

Tea Song

Posted May 30, 2017

In this Climbing Life story from Alpinist 58, mountaineer Shirin Shabestari writes about her childhood in Iran, where her dad introduced her to snowy peaks that inspired the dreams she continues to follow.

K'e yil yal tx'i: Saying Something

Posted May 22, 2017

In this Climbing Life story from Alpinist 58, Leslie Hsu Oh takes her kids climbing and observes them learning lessons that took her a lifetime to learn. After Oh lost her birth mother and brother to cancer, her adoptive mother had encouraged her to seek a sense of kinship in the mountains.

A foray into the 'Never-Never Land' of Cordillera Sarmiento, Chile

Posted April 25, 2017

Last March Americans Whitney Clark, Jon Griffin and Tad McCrea ventured into a notoriously wet and seldom-visited coastal region of South America—Patagonia's Cordillera Sarmiento—in hopes of climbing a peak called Alas de Angel Sur. The approach to their main objective proved too difficult to decipher in the time and weather that they had, but the team still managed to climb another peak by a route they dubbed Estoy Verde (M6 200m). Clark recounts their rain-soaked adventure.

Riding the Storm on Torre Central, Patagonia

Posted April 19, 2017

Mayan Smith-Gobat returns to the Torres del Paine in Patagonia to attempt a complete free ascent of Riders on the Storm (VI 5.12d/5.13 A3, 1300m) on the Torre Central, which she came close to accomplishing with Ines Papert in 2016. This year the weather dashed all hopes for a complete ascent, but Smith-Gobat and Brette Harrington summoned all their reserves and went up the icy wall anyway. Here Smith-Gobat relates their journey inward, upward and downward.

On Belay: A Thousand Days of Lapis Lazuli

Posted March 24, 2017

After ten years as a boulderer, Keita Kurakami attempts what some other local climbers called impossible: a new free route on the daunting 110-meter Moai Face of Mt. Mizugaki. When he succeeded in July of last year, it turned out to be the hardest multipitch trad climb in Japan at 5.14a R/X.

Wired: Rethinking Mountain Gloom

Posted March 21, 2017

Dawn L. Hollis challenges the belief in academia that people did not care for mountains until they began climbing them at the end of the eighteenth century. Further, she studies why an institution such as the British Alpine Club would react so strongly against the premise that the love people have for mountains is nothing new.

TOOL USERS: The Headlamp

Posted March 16, 2017

In this Tool Users story from Alpinist 57, Paula Wright shines a light on the evolution of the headlamp. Since some climbers were still carrying flashlights in their mouths as late as the early 1970s, it seems that we have only recently emerged into a more illuminated age.

The Literature of Ascent

Posted March 15, 2017

"Literary mountain writing may now be giving way to the selfie," Stephen Slemon writes in this essay. "But this shift towards the visual media may be opening new ground for the genre of mountaineering literature to change." Slemon explores climbing's ties to the written word and how the form of climbing narratives is evolving.

Full Value: Degringolade

Posted March 9, 2017

In this Full Value story from Alpinist 56 Sibylle Hechtel recounts a pivotal moment in her climbing career—her first first-ascent, in Canada's Bugaboos, 1973. She went on to become famous for the first all-female ascent of El Capitan with Beverly Johnson later that year, but her experience in the Bugs taught her "how to get up and back down" in the mountains.