In this science fiction story from The Climbing Life section of Alpinist 76–which is now available on newsstands and in our online store–Mailee Hung considers the conundrum of climate change in a short essay. Her narrator declares: “I don’t want to go back to the land. I grew up on frenetic cartoons and fake marshmallows in breakfast cereals; I built an academic career on movies and cyborgs. We look, guilty, at our well-heeled boots, wax poetic about the feeling of our hands in dirt, but I don’t want to till the soil. The digital is like dreaming, intangible yet inextricably material: heat radiating from our bodies or server stacks. We once were wind-carved, exposed to the elements. It was hard, then, harder than skyscrapers or computer chassis. Will we be glad to have somewhere to retreat to when the waters rise?”
Mountain Standards Gear Review: Alpinist Digital Editor Derek Franz has been using the Black Diamond Crack Gloves to jam cracks across the west for the past several months. He writes: “I’ve used these gloves in Yosemite, Black Canyon and Utah desert, and also crammed them into some sharp, crumbly choss cracks near my home on Colorado’s Western Slope, and they’re holding up well, much better than I predicted based on how thin they felt when I first tried them on…. I found these puppies to perform well in thin hand cracks as well as for offwidth teacup fist jams.” Five stars.
Interview with David Smart, author of the Mountain Profile for Alpinist 76 and winner of 2021 Boardman-Tasker Award
David Smart’s book, Emilio Comici: Angel of the Dolomites, received the Boardman-Tasker Award for Mountain Literature in November. The biography was published in 2020 and provided some of the inspiration for Smart’s Mountain Profile on the Cima Grande in the Dolomites that was recently published in Alpinist 76. In this feature, an interview with Smart explores topics related to Emilio Comici: Angel of the Dolomites, the Cima Grande profile and Smart’s writing and climbing career.
Mountain Standards Gear Review: Corey Buhay, a member of the US Ice Climbing Team, has been testing the Sterling Ion R 9.4 XEROS rope. The new XEROS technology is the first of its kind in which every filament of the rope is dry-treated, a process that adds a deeply integrated level of protection from water absorption. Buhay writes: “While I haven’t been using the rope long enough to vouch for its long-term durability, the new XEROS technology exceeds expectations on all counts so far. If you’re looking for a rope that’s meticulously dry-treated and reliable in all conditions, the Ion R 9.4 XEROS is a safe bet.” Five stars.
Today we’re sharing an excerpt from an award-winning book written by a longtime Alpinist contributor and former intern Chris Kalman and illustrated by Craig Muderlak. “Dammed If You Don’t” is Kalman’s third book and recently won the Mountain Fiction and Poetry category at the annual Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival. Book competition jury member Pete Takeda wrote: “Kalman’s third book asks a very topical question: Can we love a place to death? Kalman answers this question with a spare quality that evokes a bit of James Salter. His portrayal of a lush, pristine Chilean valley is immediate and profound. His writing is peppered with the intimate details that also bring the characters, their foibles, and struggles to life. Their dilemmas soon become our dilemmas. Perhaps the best thing about ‘Dammed If You Don’t’ are the plot twists, building to a final scenario that is plausible, disturbing, and strangely uplifting.”
Alpinist 76 is now available on newsstands in our online store. In this Sharp End essay, our editor-in-chief follows in the footsteps of Harvey Manning up real mountains in the Cascades after years of research to write a book about his imaginary peaks. As she climbs the classic South Face of the Tooth, she recounts his descriptions of formative experiences in 1947 that helped inspire his efforts to preserve the land from threats of timber and mining development. Seventy-four years after Manning’s ascent, Ives strains her eyes through a haze of smoke to catch a glimpse of the range as Manning may have seen it. She writes: “While I trace more of Harvey’s hikes, I also think of what it means to write about beloved and imperiled things: to cross the arched back of a glacier and feel how much it is both living and dying, its meltwater murmuring in hundreds of voices between the blue walls of crevasses. To walk through the green shadows of giant moss-strung trees that, one hot summer day, might burst into flame.”
Mountain Standards Gear Review: IFMGA/AMGA guide Mike Lewis has been using the Mountain Hardwear Phantom Down Parka for several months. He writes: “Its 800 fill down is really warm, making it a good choice for the 6000-meter objectives such as Denali, Aconcagua, Ama Dablam, Cotopaxi, Elbrus–basically, anything that is not an 8000-meter monster…. It appears that few products compare to the Mountain Hardwear Phantom Down Parka in terms of its warmth-to-weight ratio at 619 grams (20 oz.)” Five stars.
Three Ukrainian climbers–Nikita Balabanov, Mikhail Fomin and Viacheslav Polezhaiko–have just completed the first ascent of the fabled Southeast Ridge of Annapurna III (7555m). Until now, no one had surpassed the high point of 6500 meters that was first reached by British climbers Steve Bell, Nick Colton and Tim Leach in 1981. Balabanov, Fomin and Viacheslav had only 12 days of food and took 18 days for the ascent and descent. After diverting from their original descent plan, they were eventually picked up by helicopter at 5000m.
A story from Alpinist 74 (Summer 2021)–“Letters to a Young Climber,” by Doug Robinson–was recently selected as the winner of Best Mountaineering Article at the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival, which is happening this week. The recognition comes with $2,000 and is eligible to receive a $4,000 Grand Prize that will be selected from a pool that includes seven other category winners on November 5. A book by Alpinist contributor Chris Kalman, “Dammed If You Don’t,” won the Mountain Fiction and Poetry category. A grand-prize winner among the eight categories will be selected on November 5. Meanwhile, the film “Dream Mountain,” of which Alpinist is a sponsor, was selected for the for the 2021/22 Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival World Tour.
The American Alpine Club (AAC) is currently accepting applications for six grants: the TINCUP Partner in Adventure Grant, the Cutting Edge Grant, the Jones Backcountry Adventure Grant, the McNeill-Nott Award, the Mountaineering Fellowship Fund Grant, and the Rocky Talkie Search and Rescue Award. Deadlines to apply vary depending on the grant, ranging from November 8, 2021, to January 31, 2022.