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Two proposals threaten America’s rock climbing

Policy proposals are now being considered by the National Park Service (NPS) and US Forest Service (USFS) that threaten to fundamentally change the way rock climbing is managed. A comment period for these proposals has recently been extended to January 30. It is important that climbers make our presence known and kindly share our perspectives to help non-climbing land managers better understand what we do and how we do it, especially when it comes to climbing in wilderness areas.

Aim For the Bushes (AI6 M6 X, 5,250) on the east face of Mt. Dickey, Ruth Gorge, Alaska. [Photo] Matt Cornell, Jackson Marvell and Alan Rousseau collection

New route on Mt. Dickey, Alaska: Aim For the Bushes

Over a three-day push from March 31 to April 2, Matt Cornell, Jackson Marvell and Alan Rousseau climbed a new route on the east face of Mt. Dickey in Alaska’s Ruth Gorge. They named their line Aim For the Bushes (AI6 M6 X, 5,250′). Rousseau narrates their adventure.

Ed Webster overlooking the valley of Indian Creek and the shadow of the Bridger Jack spires, 1984. [Photo] Jeff Achey

Remembering Ed Webster: 1956-2022

One of climbing’s great Renaissance men, Ed Webster, 66, died of natural causes at his Maine home on November 22. Friend and climbing historian Jeff Achey described Webster as “one of the most important rock climbers of his era, on par, in his unique way, with John Bachar, Henry Barber and Jimmy Dunn.” Webster blazed new routes from Cathedral Ledge to Colorado, to the Utah desert and, with three friends in 1988, to Chomolungma’s Kangshung Face. A route that Reinhold Messner endorsed as “the best ascent of Everest in terms and style of pure adventure.” Beyond the climbs, Webster was also a consummate writer and author, and his words still ring today.

Abbey Collins on the summit of Mt. Beelzebub (7,280') in Alaska's Chugach Mountains, 2021. [Photo] Andrew Holman

Alpinist hires Abbey Collins as assistant editor

Alpinist is delighted to welcome Abbey Collins to its team as an assistant editor. She returns to the East Coast from Alaska to work from the magazine’s headquarters in Jeffersonville, Vermont. “Abbey brings a broad skillset to us, from radio to print journalism, and I’m excited about the possibilities she brings to Alpinist, and what this means for the Alpinist Podcast as well as the magazine,” says Editor-in-Chief Derek Franz. “She has reported on difficult stories in her previous jobs, is connected to the Alaskan mountaineering scene, and she is clearly the type of person who embraces challenges with enthusiasm. We are very happy to have her with us!”

Derek Franz and friends avoiding the usual mule train of climbers on Pingora's Northeast Buttress (5.8)--one of the Fifty Crowded Classics of North America--by climbing it in drizzly weather in 2019, Wind River Range, Wyoming. [Photo] Derek Franz

Derek Franz begins new role as editor-in-chief of Alpinist

Alpinist has named Derek Franz as the new editor-in-chief. Franz began freelancing for the magazine in 2011 and joined the Alpinist staff as digital editor in September 2016. “I’m truly humbled and honored to start this new chapter for the magazine,” Franz says. “As the new editor-in-chief I will do my best to uphold the tradition of excellence that has been ingrained with the brand since Alpinist 0 was published in 2002.”

Madaleine Sorkin during her free ascent of the Dunn-Westbay Direct (IV 5.14-, 4 pitches, 1,000') on the Diamond of Longs Peak (Neniisotoyou'u, 14,255') on August 10. [Photo] Henna Taylor

Madaleine Sorkin becomes the first woman to free climb Dunn-Westbay Direct (5.14-)

On August 10, Madaleine Sorkin, 40, enjoyed a no-falls day on the Dunn-Westbay Direct (IV 5.14-, 4 pitches, 1,000′) on the Diamond of Longs Peak (Neniisotoyou’u, 14,255′) in Rocky Mountain National Park. This makes her the first woman and fifth person overall to free climb the route on lead. The crux pitch is about 270 feet long and requires an 80-meter rope, and the route from Broadway Ledge sits above 13,000 feet in elevation.

Francois Franz Cazzanelli and Pietro Picco climbing the Aosta Valley Express variation (AI 90° M6 85°, 1400m) up to Camp 2 (ca. 6000m) on the Kinshofer Route on Nanga Parbat (8125m). [Photo] Courtesy of Yodel press agency

A new variation to Camp 2 and a speed ascent on Nanga Parbat

In late June and early July, a group of climbing guides from Italy’s Aosta Valley completed a variation to Camp 2 and a speed ascent on Nanga Parbat (8125m). On June 26, Francois “Franz” Cazzanelli and Pietro Picco climbed a 1400-meter variation up to Camp 2 on the Kinshofer Route (ca. 6000m) in alpine style in a single push from Base Camp. They called the variation the Aosta Valley Express (AI 90° M6 85°). On July 4, Cazzanelli summited the Kinshofer Route from Base Camp (4200m) without bottled oxygen in 20 hours, 20 minutes.

Annapurna (8091m). [Photo] Wolfgang Beyer, Wikimedia

Researchers challenge historical records for 8000-meter peaks

A team of researchers has been working for the past several years analyzing summit photos from the world’s highest peaks–particularly on Dhaulagiri (8167m), Manaslu (8163m) and Annapurna (8091m). On July 8, one of them, Eberhard Jurgalski, announced in a report on that they could only find evidence to confirm ascents to the actual apex of all 14 8000-meter peaks by three people: Ed Viesturs (USA), Veikka Gustafsson (Finland) and Nirmal Purja (Nepal/UK). The research continues and decisions remain about how to handle long-established records.

Red dots show the route of David Allfrey, White Magro and Graham Zimmerman's new route, The Pace of Comfort (VI 5.10 A3+ M6 70° snow, 3,100') on the northwest face of Kichatna Spire (8,985') in the Alaska Range. [Photo] Oliver Rye

Two new big wall routes completed on Alaska’s Kichatna Spire

Two new big-wall aid routes reached the rarely visited summit of Kichatna Spire (8,985′) in the Alaska Range within the past few weeks. From May 23 to 27, Americans David Allfrey, Whit Magro and Graham Zimmerman opened a route on the northwest face that they named The Pace of Comfort (VI 5.10 A3+ M6 70° snow, 3,100′). Shortly after, on the east face of the spire, British climbers Mark Thomas and Mike “Twid” Turner completed a route they called Thunderstruck (VI 5.11b A3+, 3,900′) on June 8 after 12 consecutive days of effort.

Matt Cornell, Jackson Marvell and Alan Rousseau at the point where the Slovak Direct joins the Cassin Ridge. [Photo] Jackson Marvell

Fast times on Slovak Direct: Two teams speed up one of Denali’s hardest routes in a day

At 2 a.m. on May 15, Matt Cornell, Jackson Marvell and Alan Rousseau topped out on the Slovak Direct (5.9 X M6 WI6+) on Denali (20,310′), completing the route in just 21 hours, 35 minutes. It was a staggeringly fast time, but the record didn’t last long. On June 3, Michael Gardner, Sam Hennessey and Rob Smith fired the route in 17 hours, 10 minutes. All six climbers are friends and expressed happiness for everyone’s success. “The conditions this year are like nothing I’ve seen in 10 years,” Gardner told Alpinist. “People who’ve been climbing there longer than I have are saying the same thing.”