Chris Van Leuven’s story “Going Home,” which first appeared on the cover of Alpinist 51, has been selected for inclusion in this year’s The Best American Sports Writing anthology.
Longtime Best American Sports Writing series editor Glenn Stout writes, “Chris’s story took on a difficult subject with understanding and empathy, letting the reader know not just what happened, but providing some insight as to why, and why people like Dean Potter consider the reward of their pursuit worthy of the very real and present risk.”
“Going Home” chronicles the life and death of three climbers and proximity wingsuit BASE jumpers, Sean “Stanley” Leary, who died in Zion 2014, and Graham Hunt and Dean Potter, who died BASE jumping in Yosemite last year.
“I never wanted to write this story,” Van Leuven explains over the phone. He has now written about several wingsuiters, he says, and “all of them have died.”
“It was a somber story to write,” he adds.
As publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt notes, the series is the “premier annual showcase for the country’s finest” stories and essays. “Going Home” was selected from a field of hundreds of print and online journals and magazines.
“The piece wouldn’t have come together if I didn’t gain the trust and understanding of many members of the Yosemite climbing community and extended community,” Van Leuven says. “I really do owe a debt of gratitude to Alpinist‘s Editor-in-Chief Katie Ives, the widows of the fallen climbers and…people like Jeff Shapiro who were instrumental in the fact-checking process…and others.”
Van Leuven’s recognition builds on Alpinist‘s already strong presence in the Best American series. In 2015 Lizzy Scully made the Notable List for America’s Best Sports Writing for her story “Birth, Sickness, Old Age, Death” in Alpinist 46. In 2014 Helen Mort was noted for her poems on Alison Hargreaves in Alpinist 44. In 2012, Barry Blanchard was noted for his story “Sanctum,” Alpinist 35, and Michael S. Reidy was included in the Notable List for America’s Best Science and Nature Writing for “The Rucksack of Joseph Dalton Hooker,” Alpinist 33.
The anthology will be available at bookstores nationwide in October.