In Alpinist 63, you’ll find the second and final part of our series on the history of Nanda Devi and nearby peaks in India’s Garhwal Himalaya. Pete Takeda’s effort to trace a mysterious rumor involving a covert CIA operation on the sacred mountain known as the headwaters of the Ganges, as well as to investigate expeditions’ environmental effects from 1940 through the Cold War to the present day, proves nearly as monumental as Nanda Devi herself. Included also are the insightful contributions of environmental humanities professor Meera Baindur, world-renowned alpinists Julie-Ann Clyma and Martin Moran and Piolets d’Or Asia Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Harish Kapadia, who explore the legends and communities swirling like unsettled snow around the summits of Nanda Devi, Nanda Devi East and Nanda Kot.
Elsewhere in the issue, Katsutaka “Jumbo” Yokoyama offers an in-depth look into the first ascent of Sun Patch Spur, a nearly six-kilometer-long linkup of K7 West and Badal Peak in the Karakoram Range of Pakistan. In “Through the Canvas,” Canadian artist Jenna Robinson probes the subtle balance of light and texture in alpine landscapes. And you’ll certainly rethink bailing—in more than one sense—upon reading Doug McCarty’s account of the frostbite-inducing New Year’s Eve he spent on the summit of Montana’s Granite Peak in 1972, or Szu-ting Yi’s recollection of her ambitious attempt to traverse 43 peaks along the Continental Divide in Wyoming’s Wind River Range.
The whimsy in Whitney Clark’s and Jerry Auld’s mountain writing promises contemplative inspiration, while David Stevenson and Shawnté Salabert both comb through past geographies in search of more than simple answers. And Paula Wright celebrates the community-oriented spirit of longtime rescuer Maryanne Reiter, while Katherine Indermaur celebrates the spirit of vulnerability at the heart of Indian Creek in southeastern Utah.—and much, much more….
- Mountain Profile: Nanda Devi, Part II (1940–2018)
- "A powerful blend of myth and politics has always swirled around Nanda Devi," wrote Hugh Thomson in 2004. This 7816-meter summit, which local residents believe to be the home of the Goddess Nanda Devi, is also rumored to be the location of a missing plutonium-powered device lost at the height of the Cold War. In Part II of his series on the history of Nanda Devi and some of its neighboring peaks, Pete Takeda recalls the varied influences of spiritual beliefs, cultural shifts and political conflicts on post-World War II ascents—as well as the mounting environmental damage that contributed to the closure of the Sanctuary in 1982 and to the uncertainty of the region's future. Meera Baindur, Julie-Ann Clyma, Martin Moran and Harish Kapadia share their own explorations of landscapes, legends and communities surrounding one of the most sacred mountains in the Garhwal Himalaya of India.
- Through the Canvas
- In both painting and climbing, Canadian artist Jenna Robinson explores mountain landscapes from the inside, looking to create "an elusive balance between shadows and highlights; warm colors and cold; patterns and diversions."
- The Light on the Snow
- In 2008, when Katsutaka Yokoyama, Yusuke Sato and Fumitaka Ichimura made the first linkup of the Isis Face and Slovak Direct routes on Denali, climbers around the world were astounded by the length, difficulty and rapid, minimalist style. Nearly a decade later, still pursuing innovative forms of alpinism, Yokoyama set out with Takaaki Nagato to complete the first ascent of Sun Patch Spur, a nearly six-kilometer-long combination of the southwest ridge of K7 West and the southwest face of Badal Peak in the Karakoram Range of Pakistan.
- Sharp End
- Silences at dawn.
- In response to Eileen Guo's Alpinist 61 article—"Dreaming of Afghan Mountains"— a German reader shares the story of how his father helped build the first ski lift in Afghanistan.
- On Belay
- In September 2017, Szu-ting Yi and Dave Anderson attempted to traverse 100-plus miles of the Wind River Range while climbing all forty-three of its peaks that rise along the Continental Divide (and that are named in 2015 USGS maps). What started as a whimsical project for Yi soon transformed into a deeper search for independence as a woman and a climber.
- Climbing Life
- Whitney Clark dreams of invisible mountains. Shawnté Salabert seeks the late guidebook author R.J. Secor's most mysterious peak. Jerry Auld imagines new ranges of the future. And David Stevenson explores a geography of lost time to remember his son.
- Full Value
- In 1972, barely out of high school, Doug McCarty and Brian Leo completed the first winter ascent of the North Face of 12,799-foot Granite Peak—only to endure an icy bivy on the remote summit. More than four decades later, McCarty recalls subzero temperatures and severe frostbite, as well as a ghostly "strange music" that helped him survive.
- Local Hero
- Paula Wright extols Maryanne Reiter, a longtime mountain rescuer, climber and seeker of beauty in the Oregon Cascades.
- Off Belay
- Amid the cliffs of the desert Southwest, Katherine Indermaur witnesses the vulnerability of America's open spaces.