Weekly Feature Archives

The Climbing Life: She Climbed Alone

Posted June 6, 2016

As a young climber in the 1990s, I developed a strange habit. Each year I found myself obsessively searching the American Alpine Club's Accidents in North American Mountaineering for entries about women.

The Climbing Life: The March of Folly

Posted June 2, 2016

"I'M SO GLAD TO SEE YOU BOYS," Lee Sorenson shouted as he ran across the campsite toward us, his bearded face beaming with love and relief. His oldest son, Tobin, and I were a full day and a night overdue. It was March 1975, and we'd just made the second ascent of the Valley's first major ice climb, Upper Sentinel Falls.

Darwin's Disappointment

Posted May 26, 2016

In September 1833, Charles Darwin set out for the four peaks of the Sierra de la Ventana alone, lured by local murmurs of caves and forests and veins of silver and gold. The small range was barely visible from the port of Bahia Blanca, a notch in the north-central Argentine coast. There, the H.M.S. Beagle remained docked with Captain Fitzroy, who had invited Darwin aboard the ship to circumnavigate the globe as a scientist.

Solo Faces: The Camaraderie of Divine or Reckless Brotherhood

Posted May 24, 2016

Before I left for Chamonix to go hiking in the French Alps, I borrowed Solo Faces by James Salter from the lending library at work. My list of must-reads was long and only growing longer, but the ghostly mountain landscape of its cover caught my eye—a silhouetted man ascending a jagged peak.

Down to the Wire

Posted May 20, 2016

This story is about Jack Tackle recovering from a debilitating sickness and then traveling to Mt. Augusta (14,072), Saint Elias Mountains, Yukon Territories. High on the peak's north face, he was clocked by a rock, and rescued from the wall a few days later by Pararescue Specialists (known as parajumpers, or PJs), highly trained members of the Airforce Special Forces.

Poetry Feature: "Belay"

Posted May 20, 2016

As an ecologist and a writer, I spend a lot of time contemplating how those two vocations speak to each other. Fundamentally, my research explores what it is to translate a landscape and how language shapes our perception of the ecosystems on which we depend.

A History of Imaginary Mountains—Thoreau's Dream: Beyond the Maps

Posted May 18, 2016

Behind the histories of exploration lie less-visible tales of rumored summits that prove to be nonexistent, and of physical mountains whose shapes and heights transform according to different legends.

Friends and Family Honor Dave Bridges (1970-1999)

Posted May 17, 2016

On October 5, 1999, while Dave Bridges and Alex Lowe were investigating a potential ski descent on the southwest face of Shishapangma, an avalanche buried them. This spring, their remains were found on the mountain.

A Quartet for Silent Lands: A Photo Essay

Posted May 13, 2016

We asked Lise Billon and Jerome Sullivan, two of the four authors of "A Quartet for Silent Lands" in Alpinist 53 (the other two authors are Diego Simari and Antoine Moineville) to share additional photos from their story for us to post online.

Local Hero: Fay Pullen

Posted May 12, 2016

At seventy-three, Cascades climber Fay Pullen bushwhacks through dense thickets and climbs isolated peaks—generally alone. Cindy Beavon pays a visit to one of Washington's most prolific soloists.