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Alpinist Magazine


 Alpinist Magazine
 

by Roy Leggett

December 12, 2003

They say good things come to those who wait and this is certainly the case with Alpinist magazine. However, I easily devour the entire issue on the first day of its release and since it is a quarterly publication, I usually end up waiting two months and 29 days for the next issue to arrive. But the wait is with out a doubt, worth it. Alpinist magazine rocks and I can happily fill those days between releases re-drooling over the amazing stories and awe-inspiring photos. To even call it a magazine is an understatement. If magazines were food then Alpinist would be sushi, more a delectable form of art than a run of the mill periodical.

The magazine is the result of the successful teaming of Christian Beckwith, former editor for the American Alpine Journal, and publisher Mark Ewing. Their vision... to create a magazine which aspires to the “live to climb, climb to live” attitude, or as Christian put it “...a periodical for the soul climbers, the lifers”. Now, six issues into publication, their vision has blossomed into a successful reality. The magazine radiates a spiritual aura, acknowledging climbing as a way of life and recognizing that climbers are part of a sacred community. And within Alpinist’s pages is a forum for that community, where amazing experiences are shared through rich stories and vibrant photography.

And don’t let the Alpinist name fool you either. While the magazine does emphasize alpinism and larger, mountainous, grade V and up routes; you don’t have to be a suffer-monger to enjoy its contents. Thus far, I have read about the history of big-wall free climbing, laughed at tall-tales of Tommy Caldwell’s surgically improved hand, now with eleven fingers and an eighteen inch hand span, and learned that Yosemite is host to some of the greatest philosophers on earth. As well, the magazine creatively weaves together the past, present and future of the sport. Articles, such as the re-creation of the first ascent of the north face of the Eiger using original 1930 equipment reveal the magnificent history of alpinism and the valor of early climbers. To keep the reader informed on the latest buzz, the Climbing Notes section, which is in every issue, gives brief personal accounts, photos and topos, of the most significant routes that have been climbed since the last publication. And to continue fueling the flame within, articles such as Unclimbed Gems, which documented nine amazing unclimbed routes from various corners of the globe, give the reader a glimpse into what is to come.

“So what’s the catch,” you ask? Well unfortunately, something this good can’t come cheaply. Alpinist does carry a hefty $13 per issue price tag, but for once you actually get what you pay for. Because of the high retail cost, Alpinist is not subject to the excessive commercialization necessary to fund such a grand project. The magazine is completely devoid of annoying car ads, energy food ploys, or spray about what company makes the best new indoor bouldering slipper for overhanging terrain. Instead, what ads do appear in Alpinist are full page, artistically composed promotions for climbing equipment. Even then, they are few and far between. In the last issue, only nine pages of a one hundred page issue were advertisements.

Such devotion to the reader is unprecedented, and again, Alpinist transcends the typical format of a magazine. Each issue is more reminiscent of a center-piece coffee table book, which is in fact where my collection resides (all the other climbing mags have been demoted to bathroom material). The short of the long... you really should experience Alpinist for yourself. Check out the website, www.alpinist.com, for more info, some visual aids, subscription information, and a list of retailers who carry it.



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