- Mountain Profile: K2, Part II (1974–2012)
- For the final part of our two-part series, Steve Swenson returns to the history of K2 (8611m) in 1974, as the fighting in Kashmir subsides and the Karakoram Range reopens to the outside world. The 1970s and 1980s on the world's second highest mountain are a time of intense contrasts and cultural diversity, of boldness and creativity, conflict and tragedy. Although, since the 1990s, a form of commercialization has spread to the mountain's normal routes, k2's adventure history may not be over: The potential for visionary new climbs and exploits remains. So, too, lingers the question of how future alpinists might rise to these challenges. As Kurt Diemberger once asked: "how many times will we go to K2? Each time new facets of the crystal shine. Each step is a step into boundless possibility" (The Endless Knot, 1989). From Pakistan, Japan and Poland, Nazir Sabir, Naoe Sakashita and Przemysław ("Przemo") Piasecki contribute their own perspectives on the eternal fascination of this one protean peak.
- The City and the Blade
- For Hindus and Buddhists, "Meru" is the name of a mythic peak that rises at the center of the world, linking earth and heaven. For the international climbing community, Meru Central, in the Garhwal Himalaya of India, is the location of the Shark's Fin, one of the world's most attempted and elusive lines. In 2011 Conrad Anker, Renan Ozturk and Jimmy Chin set forth to climb a route that—for decades—existed merely in alpinists' imaginations, up a mountain whose true summit might only be attained in a purely transcendent, spiritual realm.
- The Sharp End
- Our editor-in-chief, Michael Kennedy, pens a personal letter to one of the Cerro Torre bolt choppers—his son.
- On Belay
- Paul Hersey pursues the fleeting icefields of New Zealand's Westland Tai Poutini National Park, exploring a landscape at the edge of loss.
- The Climbing Life
- Jerry Auld reflects on the long axe's fall from glory; Lauren Watson climbs to the sound of wings; and Ryan Frost takes flight from families.
- Escape Route
- While recovering from a prescription drug addiction, Matt Samet enters the underbelly of Boulder's Flatirons, discovering a world in which darkness might lead slowly back to light and risking his life might save it.
- Full Value
- A year after falling hundreds of meters down ala Izquierda, Isabel Suppé returns to the Bolivian Andes on crutches to climb the southwest face of Serke Khollu and reflect on the accident that resulted in her partner's death.
- Off Belay
- The irrepressible Tami Knight presents: Cerro Torre, The Musical!