Skip to content
Home » Weekly Feature

Weekly Feature

Onward & Upward: A century of women climbing in the Tetons

In late 2022, I learned that The Teton Climbers’ Coalition would be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first female ascent of the Grand Teton the next year, and they were looking for suggestions on how to engage the community. This sparked the nugget of an idea in my storyteller’s brain—I could help mark this full century of women climbing in the Tetons while sharing my own love of these mountains with a wider audience. The history of climbing here feels like a living, breathing one, where friends and neighbors I see at the trailhead and the grocery store have played a part in shaping its past, present and future. Since the start of 2023 I interviewed nine women who have climbed in the Tetons from the 1950s up until today. Their stories are varied—some have notched superlatives, while others have quietly climbed these peaks without getting their names in the history books.

A fixed piton offers a lone spot of protection for Nik Berry and Hayden Kennedy on the notoriously spicy Hallucinogen Wall in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado, 2014. [Photo] Andrew Burr

Climbing in Wilderness

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.”

Shama Baqir on an unclimbed Passu Cones tower in 2021.

Power on the Peaks

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.

Illustration by Andreas Schmidt

Contemplating the Next Impossible

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?”

Tom Hornbein in 2011. [Photo] Claudia Camila Lopez

What’s Past is Prologue: Tom Hornbein’s Winding Road to Chomolungma

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.

Reinhold Messner holds the Maestri bolts from Cerro Torre that were given to him in Aspen, Colorado, on November 23, 2022. [Photo] Derek Franz

Between safety and boldness

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.”

Illustration by Andreas Schmidt

What We Search For

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.

Derek Franz on Ecclesiastes (IV 5.9) on Mitchell Peak, Wind River Range, Wyoming, in 2019. [Photo] Todd Preston, Derek Franz collection

A Climbing Life

In this Sharp End story from Alpinist 80–which is now available on newsstands and in our online store–Derek Franz shares his journey from Alpinist reader to editor-in-chief.

Bea Vogel forging her own pitons at the Stanford Engineering Lab in 1952. [Photo] Bea Vogel collection

Bea and Me

In this story from Alpinist 79 (Autumn 2022), a 1952 photo of a woman who forged pitons inspires Lauren Delaunay Miller to embark on a journey to learn more about Bea Vogel, an early Yosemite climber and ardent activist, for whom the right to choose was paramount–on the rock and in the rest of life. Delaunay Miller’s book “Valley of Giants: Stories from Women at the Heart of Yosemite Climbing” recently received the Banff Mountain Book Award Climbing Literature Award.