In this Sharp End story from Alpinist 83–which is now available on newsstands and in our online store–Derek Franz examines the legal landscape and uncertain future for bolts and other fixed anchors that have been used for climbing in designated wilderness areas for nearly sixty years. Legislation such as Protect America’s Rock Climbing Act and America’s Outdoor Recreation Act is necessary, he argues, because “climbing’s place within the law is not, shall we say, fixed.”
In this Climbing Life story from Alpinist 81–which is available in our online store–Shehla Anjum shares stories from some of the Pakistani women finding their power amid the country’s high peaks.
In this Sharp End story from Alpinist 82–which is now on newsstands and in our online store–Derek Franz considers some of the hardest objectives for today’s alpinists. He writes: “When it comes to the physical limits of the human body, we are constantly wondering what is possible: What is the fastest a human can run, the highest someone can jump?… There will always be those who wonder: What is the limit of human ability on high peaks and technical faces?”
To honor the life of Tom Hornbein, who died on May 6, 2023, at his home in Estes Park, Colorado, at age 92, we are sharing this feature story from Alpinist 73 (2021) by mountaineering historian Maurice Isserman. Hornbein was one of America’s greatest climbers, best known for completing the first ascent of Mt. Everest’s West Ridge with Willi Unsoeld in 1963. He also earned distinction in his long career as an anesthesiologist and advanced research on the effects of altitude on the human body. The American Alpine Club awarded him the AAC President’s Gold Medal twice and bestowed him with an honorary membership and special recognition for service to the club. In this story, Isserman interviews Hornbein about the youthful adventures that led him to the world’s highest peak and the meanings that he still sought in the mountains at age 90.
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.
From October 24-30, 2016, Meg O’Neill shared some stories and photos with the #AlpinistCommunityProject about her path to alpinism. O’Neill died tragically on April 2, 2023, while ice climbing with two friends on Raven Falls in northeastern Utah when an ice pillar collapsed. On April 4 the Duchesne County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that a 34-year-old male was climbing when the ice fell, and that O’Neill, 40, pushed the 21-year-old female belayer out of harm’s way, saving a life at the cost of her own. The 21-year-old was then able to escape and call for help. The male climber was taken off the mountain with serious injuries, according to the sheriff’s press release. O’Neill was Assistant Director of Embark Outdoors, where she passionately carried out the nonprofit’s mission of “empowering refugee young women through outdoor education and sports.” @embark.outdoors posted on Instagram: “Most of our girls have known Meg for half their life. She’d been a mentor to them since 7th grade. She was the heart and soul of this program, as you all well know.” In memory of O’Neill’s vibrant personality, we are revisiting the stories she shared with us in 2016.
In this Sharp End story from Alpinist 81–which is now on newsstands and in our online store–Derek Franz seeks a balance between safety and boldness. He writes: “Climbing…is full of duality, encompassing a range of contradictory values…. There is a continual tightrope walk between the opposing values of safety and boldness, and the search for optimal balance between the two has always shaped the evolution of our pastime. Questions that seem to have been settled at various times in the past reemerge. There is now a fast-growing population of climbers, with increasing numbers of them going into the mountains strong from gym training but short on outdoor experience. The mindset in which people approach the wild places is changing, and the duality of our values is becoming more pronounced.”
As he struggles to cope with the death of a friend, Jason Nark becomes absorbed in the story of the search for Matthew Greene, a climber who disappeared in the Sierra Nevada in 2013.
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.
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!”