Alpinist | Spring 2019 | An Obsessive Undertaking
- Crag Profile: The Black Canyon
- In 1965 the geologist Wallace R. Hansen observed, "Many great western canyons are as well remembered for their brightly colored walls as for their airy depths. Not so the Black Canyon…. The dark-gray tones of its walls and the hazy shadows of its gloomy depths join together to make its name well deserved. Its name conveys an impression, not a picture." Spanning nearly fifty miles in western Colorado and plunging over 2,000 feet deep, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison has allured and repulsed climbers for more than eighty years with harrowing tales of gothic spires, tumbling blocks and poison ivy. Herein, Vic Zeilman recounts decades of adventures, from Ute people and early European American explorers who descended into the deep chasm to modern climbers who ventured up its steepest, biggest walls. Jamie Logan, Ed Webster and Amanda Tarr Forrest share some of their encounters with the storied cliffs, which even today, maintain a sense of mystery.
- Rocks, Clouds, Ice and Water
- For decades, Indian photojournalist Sujoy Das wandered the Himalaya taking pictures of the highest peaks—until he realized how much he missed by not looking more closely at the paths beneath his feet.
- Over the Edge and Off the Map
- About 110 miles from the Scottish coast, the archipelago of St Kilda was once home to a centuries' old culture whose members scaled steep cliffs to hunt seabirds to support their community. To tourists, the islands seemed to form a surreal utopia, an "Ultima Thule," where they might live out fantasies of lost paradises. By 1930, however, the original inhabitants, no longer able to maintain their traditional way of life, felt compelled to leave. In 2017 Scottish climber Natalie Berry traveled with Dave MacLeod and Chris Prescott to explore possible new routes and examine some of the consequences of the desire for terra incognita.
- Sharp End
- Our editor-in-chief revisits a few of the many—but often-forgotten—climbing novels and short stories by nineteenth to twenty-first century women.
- On Belay
- In May 2018, Matt Spohn sets out to make a ground-up free ascent of El Corazon on Yosemite's El Capitan, with the legendary Josh Wharton. Along the way, Spohn attempts to come to terms with the inescapability of uncertainty—on the wall, in his own life and in the future of this earth.
- Climbing Life
- Cameron M. Burns learns to belay from an eccentric mentor. Sarah Audsley seeks the true meaning of wild. Angela McPherson trains to climb for an unusual reason. Robbi Mecus realizes her unique perspective. And Ian Wyatt weathers a storm with a cast of characters.
- Full Value
- "While some choose the pursuit of rock climbing," Sasha Turrentine recounts, "I'd inherited the pastime from my dad." When she finds herself stuck with him in an unplanned bivy near the summit of Lone Pine Peak, she contemplates the ways that heritage could either save or destroy her.
- Struggling with cancer, David Roberts visits the menhirs of France to try to understand why climbers—and people in general—are drawn to stone as they search to connect with "something, perhaps, that outlasted human hopes and fears."
- Local Hero
- Our digital editor, Derek Franz, presents Anna Piunova, editor-in-chief of Mountain.ru.
- Off Belay
- Joe Whittle meets with Nez Perce elder Allen Pinkham to learn more of the stories that archive thousands of years of human relationships with the mountains of the Nimi'ipuu homeland.