Weekly Feature Archives

Smith and Kadatz: Free Climbing on Baffin Island

Posted August 20, 2015

"I believe that in Hell, they make you posthole," Anna Smith told Alpinist, recalling the conditions she and her climbing partner, Michelle Kadatz, endured while shuttling a loads to one of Baffin Island's big wall routes during July.

The City and the Blade Chapter 4

Posted August 13, 2015

IN MARCH OF 2011, while skiing in the Tetons, Renan fell off a small cliff. His doctors said he was lucky: although he'd fractured his skull and two vertebrae, and severed a major vertebral artery, his mental acuity would not be compromised. Maybe, as Mugs might say, Ganesh, the mover of obstacles in the Hindu religion, had helped us out. But Renan would have to wear a neck brace for twelve weeks.

The City and the Blade Chapter 3

Posted August 12, 2015

SOME WESTERNERS ARE DRIVEN to explore the "unknown," believing that we will discover bliss in uncharted regions, whether we define it as riches, science or self-discovery. To the Hindus of the Gangotri, the known features of the landscape already form part of a sacred, present reality—one that can be seen, touched, heard, tasted and felt.

The City and the Blade Chapter 2

Posted August 11, 2015

IN THE YEARS AFTER MUGS' DEATH, I climbed in the style he'd imprinted on me, venturing into places where nature was still in power, where everything became simple because no falling was allowed. A new partner, Alex Lowe, joined me on expeditions to Central Asia and Antarctica. In my memory, now, it's hard to fix a single image of him, for he was always moving, drinking coffee, bouncing on his toes. Like all his friends, I found myself caught up in that endless stream of energy, bewildered by what I could achieve while he cheered me on.

The City and the Blade Chapter 1

Posted August 10, 2015

Mugs had tried the Shark's Fin in 1986 and 1988 with various partners. He was turned back by an avalanche, a shoulder injury and heavy snow. When speaking of the peak, his voice dropped to a reverential whisper. On the back wall of his van, he tacked a tattered cover of Mountain with a photo of the Shark's Fin framed perfectly against a blue sky. He covered the image with a weatherworn prayer flag, only sharing it with his closest friends.

Fun Times at the 22nd Annual Lander International Climbers' Festival

Posted August 4, 2015

The Lander International Climbers' Festival, which celebrated its twenty-second anniversary from July 8 to July 12, is the modern-day equivalent of the Rocky Mountain Rendezvous—but for climbers. Here, at City Park, by a river still lined with cottonwoods, the itinerant climbers pitched a city of colorful tents, while their iron horses lined the narrow street beside the river.

There and Back Again: Chapter Two

Posted July 16, 2015

After being kidnapped in Kyrgyzstan I suffered from nightmares and loads of mistrust in the world. I went to see a therapist a few times to try and rid my sleep of nightmares, but my therapy and focus on mental healing stopped there. I felt that therapy was a sign of weakness, and that I should be tougher than that.

Meru: Documentary Reveals Honor and Obsession among Himalaya Big Wall Climbers

Posted July 14, 2015

It's over and they know it. Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk are 7,000 miles from home, 20,000 feet above sea level and a mere 300 feet below the summit of Meru Central (6310m), the middle summit of Meru Peak, in India.

There and Back Again: Chapter One

Posted July 13, 2015

The past two years I've either been pregnant or a new mom to our 14-month-old boy, Theo. Reflecting on There and Back Again reminds me of a time where climbing and everything surrounding it was my sole focus in life.

Cliffs Ahoy: Vertical Sailing and Sea Ditties in the Arctic Circle

Posted July 10, 2015

Last summer a group of climbers navigated the chill waters of the North Atlantic to access remote big wall routes in the Uumannaq area of Greenland, Gibbs Fjord, Nanavut and Sam Ford Fjord, Baffin Island. During this trip they authored ten new long routes in alpine style. This wasn't their maiden voyage, but a reprise of a 2010 adventure—a style of climbing the team dubbed "vertical sailing."