Rank #1: Available Light: Jimmy Chin
After he graduated from college in 1996, Jimmy Chin hit the road, planning to climb and ski for a year before heading to grad school. Twenty-two years later, he’s still adventuring in the mountains. In this episode, we discuss Chin’s life growing up in small-town Minnesota as the son of Chinese immigrants and his path to adventure photography. Plus: his take on filming Alex Honnold’s free solo of El Cap and skiing with his daughter.
Mar 08 2018
Rank #2: An Enormously Familiar Voice: Chris Kalous
Climber, father and house painter Chris Kalous launched the climbing podcast The Enormocast in 2011. In this episode, Alpinist Digital Editor Derek Franz sits down with Kalous, a longtime friend, to rehash memories from the glory days and discuss where he sees himself — and podcasts — going in the future.
Mar 04 2019
Rank #3: The Calling: Barry Blanchard
In 1969, at the age of nine, Barry Blanchard sat on a Greyhound bus as a young woman read to him from the pages of the mountaineering classic, The White Spider. Five decades later, alpinist and mountain guide Barry Blanchard recalls how the call of the mountains transformed his life.
Mar 01 2019
Rank #4: Death and Climbing: David Roberts
By 1965, at age 22, David Roberts had witnessed three fatal accidents in the mountains. Over 50 years since, Roberts has explored in writing what makes climbing worth the risk. In this episode, Roberts discusses an article he wrote for Alpinist 56, in which he revisits “moments of doubt.”
Sep 05 2017
Rank #5: Climbing Doesn't Change You: Kathy Karlo
“We all have emotions that eventually bring us to self-awareness, if we let them. Beneath every curmudgeonly old soul is the ability to share a passion and appreciate something that makes us feel deeply…. It’s true—climbing does not change you. But having a passion for something is what will.” Kathy Karlo is a climber, writer, and the director of the website and podcast, both titled “For the Love of Climbing.” In this episode, Karlo talks about her Alpinist 61 article, "Climbing Doesn't Change You," and how writing openly about vulnerability within the context of climbing can be a radical act.
Jul 30 2018
Rank #6: The Climbers: Jim Herrington and Fred Beckey
In the 1990s, after more than a decade of climbing in the Sierra Nevada, Jim Herrington embarked on a journey to photograph some of the most formidable mountaineers of the past generation. In this episode, rock-and-roll photographer Herrington discusses his recently released coffee-table book The Climbers and some of the stories from behind the scenes. Plus, a tribute to Fred Beckey. More at alpinist.com/podcast
Dec 06 2017
Rank #7: The Adventure Gap: James Edward Mills
“If someone is raised to spend time in the outdoors it will be something that they do without question; they won’t wonder whether or not it’s something that they’re supposed to do based on their ethnic or racial identity or how they go through life…. Unfortunately too many people in our culture and our society are deprived of that opportunity.”
An avid climber and the author of The Adventure Gap: Changing the Face of the Outdoors, James Edward Mills has worked in the outdoor industry for decades. As team journalist, he chronicled the 2013 journey of Expedition Denali, a project conceived to put the first team of African Americans on the summit of the highest point of North America. In this episode, Mills talks with associate editor Paula Wright about the adventure gap and the relationship between mountaineering and the civil rights movement.
Mar 28 2018
Rank #8: Threshold Shift: Nick Bullock
In 2003 Nick Bullock quit his steady job as an instructor in the Prison Service to climb and write full-time. His 2016 ascent of Nyainqentanglha Southeast (7046m) in Tibet with Paul Ramsden won the climbers a Piolet d’Or the following year. In this episode, Bullock discusses his path to climbing and the Alpinist article he wrote about the Nyainqentanglha climb, which won an award from the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival in 2017.
May 10 2018
Rank #9: Art of Freedom: Bernadette McDonald and Voytek Kurtyka
Perhaps no other writer has explored Cold War and post-Soviet era mountaineering more than Bernadette McDonald has. In this episode, Bernadette McDonald discusses her award-winning book, Art of Freedom, a biography of Voytek Kurtyka, one of the most accomplished, and reclusive, alpinists of our time. Known for his philosophical approach, Kurtyka believed in the transformative power of climbing. He wrote, “When we entrust our faith to an absurdly beautiful mountain, we are being true to our vocation…. This is why I find climbing to be one of the most encouraging and exhilarating efforts of my life. This is the drug of mountaineering—the liberation.”
Feb 22 2018
Rank #10: Death and Climbing, Part 2
Author and mountaineer David Roberts reads his essay "Death and Climbing," which first appeared in the winter 2016 issue of Alpinist.
Oct 04 2017