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Alpinist

Since 2002 Alpinist has striven to push creative boundaries with everything we do, from award-winning climbing journalism and creative writing to photography and art. Now, with the Alpinist podcast, we aim to extend our conversations with climbers and community members into interviews and oral histories that will entertain and educate our listeners with everything from dramatic and humorous adventure tales to in-depth discussions of the most significant issues in the climbing world today. More at alpinist.com/podcast

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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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.

37mins

8 Mar 2018

Rank #1

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From the Gunks to Desert Towers: Jeff Achey

In this episode, Alpinist Digital Editor Derek Franz interviews Jeff Achey, a prolific first ascensionist and author who lives in Western Colorado, where he co-owns Wolverine Publishing with his wife Amber Johnstone. After learning to climb in the Shawangunks as a teenager, Achey moved to Boulder, Colorado, for college and soon found himself roping up with some of the most prominent climbers of the era. That path led him to explore new routes across the state, from Eldo to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison and into Utah’s Canyonlands, where desert towers dotted the landscape. He finished school with a Bachelor’s in biology and went to work as a photo editor for Climbing. Now 60 years old, he continues to establish difficult new routes while maintaining his writing career as a guidebook publisher.

34mins

21 Oct 2019

Rank #2

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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.”

32mins

5 Sep 2017

Rank #3

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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.

40mins

4 Mar 2019

Rank #4

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Rethinking Mountaineering Histories: Amrita Dhar

“We need to acknowledge mountaineering as a profoundly social pursuit…. I strongly resist the idea that there is a kind of objective kind of excellence in mountaineering. The road to mountaineering achievement is not level. We need to understand where someone is starting from if we really want to understand what the road to the summit for them is like.” Literature professor and mountaineering scholar Amrita Dhar grew up in West Bengal. As a child, she vacationed in the Himalayan mountains with her family, and she has since spent a lot of time traveling through and thinking about mountains and the narratives that emerge from them. In this episode, Dhar talks with managing editor Paula Wright about how addressing some of the gaps in mountaineering history might also lead to reconceptualizing the pursuit of mountaineering itself.

40mins

21 Nov 2019

Rank #5

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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.

42mins

1 Mar 2019

Rank #6

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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

36mins

6 Dec 2017

Rank #7

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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.

40mins

28 Mar 2018

Rank #8

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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.

30mins

10 May 2018

Rank #9

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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.

33mins

30 Jul 2018

Rank #10

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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.

27mins

4 Oct 2017

Rank #11

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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.”

41mins

22 Feb 2018

Rank #12

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The Lifestyler: Chris Weidner

Chris Weidner began climbing as a teenager in the Pacific Northwest and is no stranger to being pinned on the summit of Mt. Rainier in a storm. The 45-year-old climbs 5.14 sport routes and continues to establish new free routes on the Diamond of Longs Peak and elsewhere. He has also written more than 300 articles related to climbing—for the Boulder Daily Camera newspaper, Alpinist and other climbing magazines—since about 2007. Weidner recently told Alpinist Digital Editor Derek Franz, "I think it's important to say that, along with these close relationships and the family feeling that climbing has given me over the years, I feel like it's also made me value lightheartedness.... And it's helped me realize that there's pretty much nothing in life worth stressing too hard about.... The other thing it reminds me of is just how important it is to be kind to people."

32mins

30 Jan 2020

Rank #13

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Mountaineering and Climate Change

At altitude, many mountain communities are already experiencing the severe consequences of climate change. Climbers have reported witnessing the effects of warming temperatures as well, from receding glaciers to increasing rockfall. In this episode, associate editor Paula Wright discusses climate change impacts on mountain environments with climbers and researchers, including Mark Carey, Pasang Yangjee Sherpa and Alison Criscitiello. For more, go to alpinist.com/podcast.

25mins

31 Oct 2017

Rank #14

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Sisnaajini: Stories from White Shell Mountain

In this episode, Gabriel Ellison-Scowcroft shares a story about a winter attempt of Sisnaajini (Blanca Peak) with Len Necefer, the founder of Natives Outdoors, and pro skier Brody Leven. Along the way, the climbers learn more about the Indigenous history and stories surrounding the mountain. Chris Zabriskie’s music available courtesy of https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

24mins

12 Jun 2018

Rank #15