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Jagor Koprek and two unidentified volunteers remove a damaged chimney above Vlaska Street in the center of Zagreb, Croatia. Koprek is one of the organizers of the volunteer movement to help clean up dangerous debris from city rooftops after the March 22 earthquake that rocked the country's capital. [Photo] Ivica Sturlan

Climbers, cavers, high-rise workers help clean debris from rooftops after Zagreb earthquake

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.

A screenshot of the Winter Wildlands Alliance Backcountry Film Fest video. [Photo] Derek Franz

Film festivals are offering free online viewings; here’s what we’re watching

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.

Adam Howard rappelling into the clouds at the Col du Chardonnet in Chamonix, France, in 2008 as Gordy Skoog looks on. [Photo] Jeff Diener

Plan B: Business as Unusual

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.”

Cover: Rising (2019). Sharon Wood. Mountaineers Books. Hardcover, 272 pages. $24.95

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.

The author Nathan Fry and his fellow classmates approach the Chli Bielenhorn, located near the famous Furka Pass (Furkastrasse) road during the 2019 NATO Partnership for Peace Program in Switzerland. [Photo] Tyler Casey

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.

[Cartoon] Tami Knight

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.

Vivian Bruchez at the Col de Bionnassay. [Photo] Ben Tibbetts

2018: Ultra Royal Traverse of the Mont Blanc Massif

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.

The Italian face of Mont Blanc, showing, from left to right, Brouillard Ridge Integral (Cosson-Henry-Salluard-Zappelli, 1973); the Innominata Integral (Gugliermina-Gugliermina-Proment-Ravelli, 1921). [Photo] Mario Colonel

Walter Bonatti: Citizen of Mont Blanc

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.'”

Zoe Burns sending Laundry (V2) on her home wall in Basalt, Colorado. Scientists are encouraging climbers to refrain from climbing popular outdoor routes because the coronavirus can remain infectious on a variety of surfaces, including rock, for significant periods of time. [Photo] Cam Burns

Climbing rock–yes, touching real rock–can potentially spread the coronavirus

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.