Mountain Profile: Mont Blanc As late as the early eighteenth century, some maps of the Chamonix area still contained large blank spaces where the high peaks stood. Within a few decades, however, Mont Blanc would become the focal point for the dreams of philosophers, poets and mountaineers alike. By 1776 Geneva travel writer Marc-Théodore Bourrit had declared of the peak: “The image of upheaval and chaos, ideas of eternity and nothingness, of revolutions and order, appear all together at once; the imagination remains silent.” John Hessler and Paula Wright recount scenes from the history of the highest mountain in Western Europe, from the controversies surrounding the first ascent in 1786 to the proliferation of famous routes to the impacts of today’s climate crisis. David Smart, Claude Gardien and Ben Tibbetts contribute glimpses of individual quests on a mountain that has come to symbolize a universe of wonder and a world in peril.
Secrets on the Maps In his mid-eighties, Japanese mountaineer and photographer Tamotsu Nakamura remains one of the most prolific and indefatigable modern explorers. Herein, a collection of images from one of his recent journeys into the ranges of Tibet, where he encountered a landscape of still-untouched summits—but also of melting glaciers, cultural loss and rapid change.
Link Sar In the summer of 2019, Graham Zimmerman, Steve Swenson, Mark Richey and Chris Wright left for the Kaberi Glacier in the Karakoram Range of Pakistan to climb Link Sar—a long-dreamed-of 7041-meter peak. For Zimmerman, the expedition was a chance to learn from some of the most experienced Karakoram mountaineers, as well as to challenge some of his own youthful assumptions about alpinism, risk and life.
Departments Sharp End Amid recent Himalayan news about inaccurate summit claims, our editor-in-chief asks: What is the measure of a mountain?
Letters A reader recalls a favorite climb with a favorite Alpinist writer.
On Belay In August 2019, nearly two years after Hayden Kennedy’s death, Jesse Huey and Maury Birdwell set out to complete one of their friend’s dreams: a direct finish to a route that Kennedy and Whit Magro had established on Mt. Hooker in the Wind River Range.
Namesake The origins of a Bogus Mountain.
Tool User Many have come to rely on handheld GPS systems for navigation in the backcountry or for proof of summit claims. Damien Gildea examines impacts of this increasingly widespread technological aid.
The Climbing Life Astra Lincoln charts an inner map of the Winds. Tami Knight pays homage to Ed Spat and the bygone glory of the Ahwahnee Brunch. Steve Jervis presents a climbing quiz, with the help of some (possibly imaginary) friends. Katherine Indermaur takes the pulse of sandstone. Anaheed Saatchi interviews a few of the many women who are transforming modern climbing culture.
Full Value Joe Purtell confronts fear, grief and beauty in the Cirque of the Unclimbables.
Wired As the news about today’s climate crises grows increasingly grim, Manasseh Franklin explores how climbing writers might be able to help inspire positive action.
Local Hero Paul Koubek shares scenes from the life of climbing guide and award-winning YOSAR team member Jo Whitford.
Off Belay Katharine Erwin presents the mysterious Wolf of EEOR.