Weekly Feature Archives

Fear or Aspiration: The Future of Climbing in the Karakoram?

Posted October 11, 2013

In the aftermath of the Nanga Parbat attack, Swedish alpinist and conflict dynamics analyst David Falt looks at some of the potential risks and possibilities for the future of Karakoram mountaineering and peace in northern Pakistan.

Squamish Series: The Early Days

Posted October 4, 2013

The late 1950s and early 1960s marked the arrival of Highway 99 in that small logging town, and a shift in climbers' interest from peaks with pointy summits to rock faces with technical challenges. In this Web feature, Ed Cooper and Dick Culbert reflect on those early days leading up to the first ascent of the Grand Wall in 1961.

'The Old Breed': A Special Feature from the Film

Posted September 27, 2013

"We have a rule, climbing in the mountains-you just don't fall," says veteran alpinist Mark Richey, "...but you do, sometimes." Before leaving for the Eastern Karakoram to attempt Saser Kangri II, then the world's second-highest unreached summit, Freddie Wilkinson and Mark Richey get a first-hand reminder of how abruptly the climb could go wrong.

Speed Soloing the Chief: An Interview with Marc-Andre Leclerc

Posted September 5, 2013

Earlier this month, twenty-year-old Squamish local Marc-Andre Leclerc solo-climbed Squamish's Chief three times in 17 hours: the historic Grand Wall route, topping out on the wall via Upper Black Dyke; the 1970 Burton-Sutton aid line, Uncle Ben's; and the classic University Wall. What Leclerc found difficult was not the technical grade, the speed or the endurance required, but making the switch among three techniques: free soloing, roped soloing and ropeless aid.

What the New NPS Wilderness Climbing Policy Means for Climbers and Bolting

Posted July 31, 2013

For decades, the future legality of fixed anchor use in Wilderness areas remained uncertain. Because land management agencies had no national guidance to assist local planners and managers, each local park and national forest was left to interpret the Wilderness Act—as it pertains to fixed anchors—on its own, and with wildly varying results. Last month the NPS issued Director's Order #41 to finally clarify the agency's management policy in Wilderness areas. Jason Keith of the Access Fund tells us what is means for climbers.

Desperate Country: Seven Days on the Fence

Posted July 29, 2013

Over seven days, Jens Holsten and Chad Kellogg made their way across the toothy ridgeline of the Northern and Southern Pickets in the Cascade Mountains. The ten-mile linkup would be one of the longest routes in the Lower 48—had they completed it.

2013 Everest Report: A Curse, a Fight and the Aftermath

Posted July 11, 2013

Modern Sherpa climbers have achieved some respect within the commercial guiding community—their status the result of evolving power structures through decades of Himalayan mountaineering. But as we look into the background of the April 27, 2013 outburst in Camp II on the south side of Everest, one discrepancy becomes apparent: the credit and wages Sherpas receive for their work, as compared to that of their Western colleagues, has not caught up to the ongoing risks Sherpas face or to their growing responsibilities.

Free Climbing Liberty Cap: A Q&A with Cedar Wright

Posted June 7, 2013

The Golden Age of climbing in Yosemite may have come and gone, but last week, Lucho Rivera and Cedar Wright proved there are still puzzles waiting to be unlocked by creative minds. I caught up with Wright between sips of coffee to hear more about what he calls "one of the best free climbs in Yosemite Valley."

Death on Yosemite's Muir Wall

Posted June 5, 2013

Already through the three cruxes of the climb and just 600 feet from the top of El Capitan, Mason Robison did what we've all done before: pulled on a loose block. The rock fell, cutting Robison's lead rope and sending him to his death. Chris Van Leuven eulogizes the 38-year-old stone mason, analyzes the accident and teaches us something about Yosemite Valley geology.

Mesca-Dawn: A Remembrance of Bill Denz

Posted May 9, 2013

In a collaborative effort to profile the late Bill Denz for our spring issue, Peter Haan and Paul Maxim enlisted David "Zappa" Austin to record his memories of one hard-fought link-up of Mescalito and the Dawn Wall of El Capitan in 1978. A snippet of Austin's story helps shape Denz's tough and tenacious character in "Boldness, Genius Magic: The Life of Bill Denz," Alpinist 42. Herein, Austin tells the rest of the unpublished story.