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
Of Peaks and Parenting: Majka Burhardt
47:28Majka Burhardt went climbing for the first time while attending a sleepaway camp for kids in Minnesota. Since then, she’s built a career ascending ice and rock all over the world. As climbing brought her to frozen pitches and high peaks, it also led Burhardt to Legado, an international nonprofit she founded with inspiration from a mountain in Mozambique. After deciding to add “mom” to her resume, Burhardt was still trying to figure out how to balance parenting with a career in climbing and nonprofit leadership when she found out she was pregnant with twins. In her new book, More: Life at the Edge of Adventure and Motherhood, Burhardt shares messages she wrote and recorded for her children while she was pregnant and in the early years of their lives. Throughout the memoir, Burhardt reflects on motherhood, marriage and her own childhood—and what it means to try to do it all. We discuss her new book, whether she thinks her kids will be climbers, and how becoming a mother changed how she evaluates risk and reward in ways you might not expect. This episode is brought to you by The North Face. Alpinist Magazine: Website | Instagram | Facebook Host: Abbey Collins Guest Majka Burhardt's new book More: Life at the Edge of Adventure and Motherhood will be released on March 7, 2023. Producer + Engineer: Mike Horn
Braving New Worlds: Steph Davis
41:32Steph Davis has been a professional climber since 1991. But simply calling the Moab, Utah local a climber seems inadequate. From three years old, Davis was trained in the Suzuki Method on the piano. She practiced everyday, sometimes for hours a day, until she discovered a passion for climbing. The piano fell silent as climbing became her primary focus. In 2004, Davis became only the second woman to free climb El Capitan in one day. The following year she freed the formation’s Salathe Wall—the first woman ever to do so. She’s logged climbing achievements all over the world, and has confronted fear while free soloing walls such as the Diamond on Longs Peak. For Davis, climbing is about when to hold on, and when to let go. We talk about her evolution as an athlete—how she went from focusing exclusively on climbing to adding base jumping and wingsuit flying to her repertoire. She describes the sense of euphoria gained from free soloing, and why it can’t be replicated. This episode is brought to you by The North Face. Alpinist Magazine Website | Instagram | Facebook Host: Abbey Collins Guest: Steph Davis Producer + Engineer: Mike Horn
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Honoring Mountains and Mentors: Clint Helander
35:26Clint Helander’s narrative is driven by stories of persistence. Persistence in the face of nearly insurmountable odds, in far-flung places like Alaska’s Revelation Mountains. Persistence in honor of friends lost, and partners with whom he’s made the push to the top. Helander is a regular Alpinist contributor and longtime reader. He says Alpinist 9, which includes a Mountain Profile on Mt. Hunter, is his favorite edition of all time. Most recently, Helander’s storytelling is featured in Alpinist 79. The story documents Helander and Andres Marin’s 2022 first ascent of the east face of Golgotha in the Revelations—a route they named Shaft of the Abyss. Now, Helander is preparing for the next leg of his journey—attending nursing school—while running a snow removal business in Anchorage, Alaska. We caught up with Clint in between storms to learn more about his experiences in the mountains, and the inner conflict formed by a life of climbing close to the edge. This episode is brought to you by The North Face. Alpinist Magazine Website | Instagram | Facebook Host: Abbey Collins Guest: Clint Helander Producer + Engineer: Mike Horn
Dreaming of Imaginary Peaks: Katie Ives
53:59For those who’ve contributed to or read Alpinist over the last 18 years, Katie Ives needs little introduction. Ives started at the magazine in 2004. After reading the Chicago Manual of Style cover to cover, she took on the roles of overqualified intern and copyeditor. She became editor in chief in 2012, a position she held until 2022. Ives is regarded as a tireless researcher, and as a mentor to the many writers she collaborated with during her nearly two decades at Alpinist. Katie has earned renown for her command of written language. Her book Imaginary Peaks: The Riesenstein Hoax and Other Mountain Dreams was published by The Mountaineers in 2021. It received a Special Jury Mention at the 2022 Banff Mountain Book Competition. Katie recently moved to Colorado to be closer to the American Alpine Club Library while she works on her next book. In this episode, Katie takes us on a journey through her 18-year Alpinist tenure. She brings us to some of the imaginary peaks she explores in her book, and the Flatirons looming outside her office window today. She laments all the books she left behind during her recent move West, and reminds us that not all answers can be found on the Internet. This episode is brought to you by The North Face. Alpinist Magazine Website | Instagram | Facebook Host: Abbey Collins Guest: Katie Ives Producer + Engineer: Mike Horn Photo by: Chris Weidner
A Life of Adventure and Positive Impact: Timmy O’Neill
49:18Timmy O’Neill’s climbing career spans more than 30 years. He’s traveled the world, gaining climbing accolades and wisdom about life, and once spent 60 days living in a cave in Joshua Tree National Park, sharing his food cache with mice who also called it home. His resume of first ascents includes routes in Patagonia, Namibia and Madagascar. He’s spent much of his climbing life in and around Yosemite, where he once held the speed record on the nose of El Capitan after climbing the route with Dean Potter in 3 hours, 24 minutes, in 2001. O’Neill is co-founder of Paradox Sports, an organization that creates opportunities in adaptive climbing. Today, O’Neill is executive director of the Yosemite Climbing Association. In this episode, Timmy shares his excitement for the expansion of the YCA’s Facelift program and his desire to leave the planet in better shape than he found it. He reflects on 30 years of climbing, and why he values experiences far more than things. This episode is brought to you by The North Face. Alpinist Magazine Website | Instagram | Facebook Host: Abbey Collins Guest: Timmy O’Neill Producer + Engineer: Mike Horn Photos by Timmy O'Neill and Corey Rich
The Self Motivator: Chantel Astorga
43:35In June 2020, Chantel Astorga soloed Denali’s Cassin Ridge in less than 15 hours, setting a women’s record and making the first known ski descent of the Seattle Ramp during the approach. She recalls one particular moment after skiing through a dangerous icefall and spotting an eagle: “I’ve never seen a large bird in the Alaska Range up that high, and it was thermaling above me, and I had this wonderful sense of peace and calmness… I’d gotten through this thing I was most terrified of, and I did it in as good a style as I could, and as safely as one can do something like that alone.” Today, Astorga makes a living as an avalanche forecaster in Idaho. She received an honorable mention by the Piolets d’Or awards in 2018 for a new route that she completed on Nilkanth (6596m) in India’s Garhwal Range with Anne Gilbert Chase and Jason Thompson. In this episode, she talks with Derek Franz about her early days as a climber when she was rope soloing ice climbs and skiing Denali in oversized, second-hand gear, and the path that led to her recent success on the Cassin Ridge. [Photo] Chantel Astorga This episode is brought to you by Rab Equipment. Audio Production by Nick Mott.
Balancing Risk and Reward: Mike Gardner
54:17Mike Gardner was 16 years old when his father, a respected climbing guide, died while free soloing on the Grand Teton in 2008. Mike has suffered the loss of other loved ones since then, yet he continues to climb and guide in the Greater Ranges as well as the Tetons where he grew up. In that time, he and his partners have completed some impressive fast-and-light ascents using a strategy of “ski-alpinism.” In this episode, Derek Franz interviews him about a remarkable spring 2021 season in Alaska, his formative life experiences, and how those inform the risks that he continues to face as a professional climber. “I don’t have a really clear, well-thought-out answer…why I go to the mountains when there’s so much hurt and tragedy there for me,” he says, “yet there’s so much joy, and the answer lies somewhere in the middle of these paradoxes….” [Photo] Evan Miller This episode is brought to you by Rab Equipment. Audio Production by Nick Mott.
From Pebbles to the Himalaya: Pete Takeda
34:19Pete Takeda is a world-renowned alpinist who started climbing on boulders as a kid in Idaho. He has pursued every climbing discipline over the last several decades, from hard free climbing to big wall aid, as well as ice and mixed climbing. His first ascents range from ephemeral mud towers to some of the most impressive peaks in the world. In this episode, Derek Franz interviews one of his childhood heroes on a wide variety of subjects, from climbing and writing, to life philosophy. [Photo] Jeff Rueppel This episode is brought to you by Rab Equipment. Audio Production by Nick Mott.
The Novelty Seeker: Madaleine Sorkin
29:12Besides free climbing big walls, Madaleine Sorkin devotes herself to social activism, and has been a leader in starting the Climbing Grief Fund through the American Alpine Club. In this interview from April 2021, Derek Franz asks about her first climbing experiences as a teenager; her perspective as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community; how she is coping with the wear and tear on her body after nearly two decades of hard climbing; and also the latest developments with the Climbing Grief Fund. [Photo] Henna Taylor Audio production by Nick Mott. This episode is possible thanks to the support of listeners like you. If you enjoyed this episode please consider supporting our work with a one-time or recurring contribution.
Not in Ohio Anymore: Anna Pfaff
39:08Anna Pfaff grew up in rural Ohio, running through cornfields, playing softball and showing animals at the county fair, “but I always felt like there was something more out there,” she says of her decision to apply for a nursing job in Denver, Colorado, at age 20. “I had no idea what a climber was, or what rock climbing was,” she recalls of the life-changing opportunity that came when friends invited her on a trip to Indian Creek. There, she discovered a natural ability and interest that culminated with her joining The North Face team in 2016. Alpinist Digital Editor Derek Franz interviewed Pfaff remotely in April 2021 while she was rehabbing a shoulder injury. [Photo] Tyler Stableford Audio production by Nick Mott. This episode is possible thanks to the support of listeners like you. If you enjoyed this episode please consider supporting our work with a one-time or recurring contribution.