Cover: Nikita Balabanov, during the first ascent of the Southeast Ridge of Annapurna III (7555m), at 6500 meters—the high point of all previous attempts. In 2012 in Alpinist 39, Ed Douglas wrote of the then-unfinished route: “In Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick, Captain Ahab heaped all the malevolence of the world and his own bitter nature on the white whale, yet you couldn’t make that mistake with this mountain.... Melville’s fish was blood and guts. Annapurna [III] is ice and rock. The visceral compulsion is the same.” [Photo] Viacheslav Polezhaiko
- First attempted in 1981, the immense Southeast Ridge of Annapurna III had alternately lured and terrified some of the world’s best climb- ers. Twenty-two years later, American alpinist Conrad Anker—who made a storm-ridden attempt with Alex Lowe in 1996—declared in the “Unclimbed” feature of Alpinist 4: “My hope for this amazing route is that it will be climbed by fair means.” Among those who took up the challenge, Ukrainians Mikhail Fomin, Nikita Balabanov and Viacheslav Polezhaiko astounded the climbing world when they completed the long-sought route in November 2021. But they had little time to cel- ebrate their success: in February 2022, Russian forces invaded their country, launching a devastating war.
- The Mountain Lover
- In 1975 British alpinist Chris Bonington led an expedition that made the first ascent of the Southwest Face of Everest (Chomolungma). Among the summiters was Nepali sirdar Pertemba Sherpa, who took part in many other significant climbs, yet never became as famous as his British coun- terparts. Herein, Kapil Bisht presents a few stories of a man who believes that mountaineers must learn, above all, to love the mountains deeply.
- The Girl Who Always Wants to Climb Higher
- Growing up in Afghanistan, Shogufa Bayat faced many risks on her journey to become a climber. After the Taliban retook her country, she had to seek her own “freedom and peace” amid the peaks of a new home.
- Sharp End
- An editor explores some of the many metaphors of late-season ice.
- A reader ponders climbing stories in today’s climate crisis.
- On Belay
- Some alpinists travel to far-flung ranges to bushwhack for miles through tangled forests and stumble across talus slopes—and only then reach the base of vast expanses of unclimbed rock and stone. Kevin “MudRat” MacKenzie manages to find plenty of this suffering and potential in his Adirondack backyard. Meanwhile, Pasang Yangjee Sherpa tells the story of Khumbi Yullha, a mountain too holy to climb.
- Tool User
- As Western scientists debated the cause of sunburn in the nineteenth century, Sarah Pickman explains, some researchers “turned to a community with plenty of experience getting burned: alpinists.”
- The Climbing Life
- Jan Redford becomes the Swamp Thing. Jerry Auld loses a bothy. Heather Dawe pursues a dream buttress. Talley V. Kayser pens an ode to the alpine start. And Amath Diouf finds love in the hills.
- Full Value
- Two decades after back-to-back epics during which he nearly died and had to abandon most of his rack, Christian Kiefer returns to alpinism—only to ask himself, in the midst of yet another epic, not only how to climb as a fifty-year-old family man but also why.
- In 1895 Japanese meteorologist Nonaka Itaru decided to spend an entire winter alone on the summit of Mt. Fuji recording the weather. Certain that he would perish on his own, his wife, Chiyoko, set out to save him.
- Off Belay
- A Ukrainian poet, Ivan Malkovych, describes the haunting beauty of the Carpathian Mountains, where some of the refugees from the Russian invasion have fled.