Mountaineer Magazine

All posts

Trail Talk | As Goes the Caribou

One of the most beautiful and wild places on the eastern seaboard, the Chic-Choc Traverse was placed on Peter Potterfield’s 25 Classic Hikes of North America with good reason. In May 2000, my wife Heather and I did a recon trip to Quebec’s Chic-Choc Mountains in the 200,000-acre Parc National de la Gaspésie. Three months later we returned to backpack the 50-mile Chic Choc Traverse – one of the most stunning stretches of the International Appalachian Trail. We were hooked. Read more…

Mother Tree

I watched in fascinated disgust as dozens of insects squirmed and wriggled towards the edges of the bark where it met the soft damp core, searching for darkness and safety. Just moments before, my mother in an effort to teach me about the wonders of nurse logs had wedged her fingernail between bark and wood and carefully pried off a chunk of bark the size of her hand. “All those insects make their home in the log. They eat the wood and make it into soil so other trees can grow.” Then she replaced the bark as carefully as she had removed it. “Let’s not disturb them any further.” Read more…

Retro Rewind | Mountaineers Books: Fulfilling Our Mission, 60 Years and Counting

A squabble over climbing styles nearly tore The Mountaineers apart in its early years. Choosing instead to put differences aside, that turmoil spawned a text so seminal that it would come to be read religiously by aspiring climbers around the world. Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills is now seen by many as the pinnacle of climbing education material, and next to it since the beginning is the nonprofit publisher Mountaineers Books. Read more…

Peak Performance | Mountain Mindfulness

Mindfulness has become a popular practice in yoga and other therapies, but it also has its place in the mountains. To be “mindful” means paying complete attention to what’s going on, both inside your head and outside of yourself, and being fully present in the moment. If you are multi-tasking, you are likely not being mindful. Likewise, if you are rushing to get things done, or tag the summit and get back to the car, you probably don’t have a good chance of being mindful. The other component of mindfulness is accepting yourself exactly as you are, or treating yourself the way you would treat a good friend. Read more…

Why Hornbein Gives: The Importance of Philanthropy in Nonprofit Publishing

When I asked Tom Hornbein about his relationship with reading over his 89-year lifespan, he didn’t answer, he simply rotated his computer forty-five degrees so I could see the room behind him on our Skype call. What was revealed was an entire wall of books, most of them about outdoor adventures, many of which were Mountaineers Books titles. Buried in his stack is surely his own book, Everest: The West Ridge, which follows his and partner Willie Unsoeld’s groundbreaking 1963 first ascent of Mt. Everest via the treacherous West Ridge. It doesn’t take a bibliophile to recognize that this collection is the mark of fervor; his ice axe long stowed, Hornbein now sits on a mountain of literature.  Read more…

Gear Love

Forget about that special someone – let’s focus on that special something! We all have the pieces of gear we love above the rest. Things that keep you warm, safe, and comfortable. Take a moment to think about that piece of equipment you just couldn’t live without, and enjoy these love letters written by Mountaineers to gear they adore the most. Read more…

Preparing for the Worst: A Chaplain’s Perspective

On August 14, 2018, I received the phone call. A climber had died, and my mountaineering friend had just gotten the news. He needed assistance with what to do next. In seven years as an emergency services chaplain, I’ve lost count of how many death notifications I’ve given, and I was the right person for my friend to call. Only, when I realized that the climber he was talking about was Stephen Kornbluth, my best friend and “mountain husband,” I felt my world shatter into a million pieces. None of my experience had prepared me for this moment. Read more…

Did You Know? Washington's Wildflowers

We know spring has arrived in the northwest when the crocuses worm their violet heads and long green bodies out of the dirt every March, a harbinger of brighter days. Our walks to work and school are dotted by blasting spring rains, and hikers slowly start to fill the trails again as snow melts and our forests become plump with moss and ferns. Read more…

Out, Outside

My Mountaineers climbing team is at the summit block of Mt. Olympus, and the clouds are coming in. It’s July 2018, and this is our second climb of the week. My muscles constantly remind me of the miles and elevation I’ve required of them so far, and the distance I still have to go. To finish this ascent we have a short pitch of rock, and we’re doing our best to get up there and see the mythical views before getting completely socked in. Read more…

Tying In: Progress on Vision 2022

Lead innovation in outdoor education, engage future Mountaineers, and advocate for wild places: these are the three strategic initiatives at the foundation of our current strategic plan, Vision 2022. It’s hard to believe we’re nearing the midpoint of the plan that has guided our priorities and investments over the last two years.  Read more…