On March 22, a Sunday morning, Croatia’s capital city of Zagreb was in the end of their second week of lockdown to address the COVID-19 pandemic when citizens awoke to 5.5-magnitude earthquake that was soon followed by an almost similarly strong aftershock. In the aftermath, toppled chimneys and dangerous debris crowded the rooftops of so many buildings that official emergency crews quickly became overwhelmed. Seeing the desperate need and an opportunity to lend their rope-access skills, approximately one hundred Croatian climbers, cavers and high-rise workers have spent more than three weeks clearing rooftops. President of the Republic Zoran Milanovic recently thanked the group for its work.
As the COVID-19 pandemic spread throughout the United States and the world, stay-in-place orders have forced a change of plans for all kinds of public gatherings. That includes film festivals, some of which are now offering free online viewings. Here we’ve gathered some links to free film fests and videos that we think may be of interest to Alpinist readers.
Read the essays from our Mountain Profile about Mont Blanc.
In the midst of economic uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic, Height of Land Publications CEO and President Adam Howard addresses our magazines’ readers, contributors, advertisers and retailers. He writes, “We’ll continue bringing you the great stories, art and photography to which you’ve become accustomed…. We’re cutting checks and taking submissions according to Plan A…. We’re here for you.”
Sharon Wood’s book “Rising” is a reflection of her 1986 ascent of Chomolungma (Everest) and a male-dominated culture then and now
In 1986 Canadian mountaineer Sharon Wood and her teammate Dwayne Congdon reached the summit of Mt. Everest (Chomolungma) via a variation to the difficult West Ridge route. Herein, Sarah Boon reviews Wood’s 2019 memoir, “Rising,” which follows Wood along her path to becoming the first North American woman to stand atop the storied peak. “Wood’s book is a window into the world of women in climbing at a time when many still considered women to be inferior mountaineers,” Boon writes.
Mountain troops rope up and strengthen bonds during the Partnership for Peace program in Switzerland
In this story, US Army Mountain Warfare School officer Nathan Fry shares his experience with the NATO Partnership for Peace Program that took place in Switzerland in the summer of 2019. “At a time when international relationships seem to be fracturing, engagements such as the Partnership for Peace mountaineering course have taken on a new value in creating a shared appreciation for other cultures,” he writes.
The Ahwahnee Brunch Retrospective (starring “Roger” & “Ed” in an eating contest of stupendous proportions)
In this Climbing Life story from Alpinist 69–which is now available on newsstands and in our online store–Tami Knight shares some background about the inspiration of a cartoon that she created many years ago, titled “Roger and Ed at the Ahwahnee Brunch.” She writes, “Roger is an amalgamation of the climbers I knew at that time in Yosemite…. Ed, on the other hand–Ed Spat to give his full name–was a real guy.” In addition to her story, she has also updated the cartoon in full color.
In this Mountain Profile essay from Alpinist 69–which is now available on newsstands and in our online store–Ben Tibbetts writes of completing the Mont Blanc Royal Traverse with Colin Haley in 2018. The 41 kilometer route along the mountain’s main axis was first attempted by Kilian Jornet and Stephane Brosse in 2012, but ended when a cornice collapsed and killed Brosse. In this story, Tibbetts confronts his own setbacks and fears after being involved in two avalanches.
In this Mountain Profile essay from Alpinist 69–which is now available on newsstands and in our online store–Claude Gardien recounts Walter Bonatti’s checkered relationship with Mont Blanc. Gardien writes: “Again and again, on mountains around the world, he’d lived through the hell of alpinists, when the elements unleash and everything becomes suffering, tragedy, grief. On Mont Blanc, he’d also known a few moments of ineffable beauty–as if he’d encountered that formidable privilege, as the writer Georges Sonnier suggested, of ‘contemplating the eye of the god.'”
Virologists agree that COVID-19 can remain infectious on rock, and that climbers who touch common holds on the stone–or any surfaces–have an increased risk of contracting the coronavirus. “If someone carrying COVID-19 touched rock–or coughed or sneezed on it–there’s clear evidence suggesting that, yes, COVID-19 may be contracted via contaminated rock or plastic,” said Levi Yant, an associate professor of evolutionary genomics at the University of Nottingham (UK) and a climber. Given that the virus is known to last the longest not just on plastic, but also steel, climbers should also be mindful when considering routes that have fixed hardware, including bolts, quickdraws and/or steel chain or permadraws.