Weekly Feature Archives

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.

On Belay: Unattached

Posted March 8, 2017

In this On Belay article from Alpinist 57, Anna Pfaff describes her adventures as she becomes "unattached" from maps, expectations and conventions and learns to find her own way into some of the unknown realms beyond.

Off Belay: Beyond Conquest

Posted March 7, 2017

In this excerpt from Alpinist 57 Mailee Hung explores artwork by Richard T. Walker that "casts unease on traditional aspirations" and helps us consider "how to describe the aesthetic experience of climbing beyond this inherited legacy" of alpinists as conquerors.

Local Hero: Loulou Boulaz

Posted March 3, 2017

During the 1930s, one woman joined the race to climb the feared north faces of the Alps, venturing into terrain then believed to be reserved for only the boldest (and some claimed the most reckless) men. In this Local Hero from Alpinist 57, Sallie Greenwood looks back on the extraordinary, often-forgotten life of Swiss alpinist Louise "Loulou" Boulaz.

2017: Ghunsa

Posted February 24, 2017

Local guide Dawa Sherpa describes what it's like to live and work near the base of Jannu/Kumbhakarna—a mountain sacred to his culture.

2007: Open

Posted February 23, 2017

Russian alpinist Sergey Kofanov recounts his 2007 encounter with the “cosmic cold” shoulder of Jannu, when he and Valery Babanov made the first ascent of the West Pillar in alpine style.