The hardest part of reporting on climbing is coping with the deaths. I’ve been delaying writing this introduction because I just didn’t feel up to it. The last month has been hard. Some of the fatal accident reports are about strangers we’ve never met. Sometimes we’re writing about people we know by reputation. But all too often it seems as though we’re reporting on the deaths of our contributors and friends.
Four climbers died on Denali. Ranger Nick Hall died while attempting to rescue other climbers on Rainier. Last week, we heard that contributor Michael Ybarra was missing, and then we waited with dissolving hope for more information until we learned that he, too, was gone. There was the news from Europe: more than eighteen climbers killed across the Alps in the last few weeks.
This afternoon, we heard from China. Yan Dongdong, the author of this issue’s On Belay article recently perished in a crevasse fall.
Dongdong was a leader in China’s emerging alpine-style climbing scene and a recipient of this year’s Mugs Stump Award. We greatly enjoyed working with, and getting to know, Dongdong through his writing. His boundless enthusiasm for climbing and for storytelling appeared in every email he sent us, full of tales of his latest adventures and his plans for more. One of his climbing partners is currently writing an obituary, and we will post that when he is finished.