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Expedition Medicine Expedition Medicine  by markhallam

This article is suitable for small groups, travelling light into the greater mountain ranges or other remote mountain areas. It is particularly aimed at trekkers or climbers, intending to go to altitudes of less than 7000 metres – and on straight forward routes, where there is some risk of illness but not great risk of physical injury.

Much in this article still holds true for the higher mountains, so it may still be worth a read if you are off to tackle one of the eight thousanders – or an unclimbed face on a remote Andean peak. But on such as these, risk of illness and physical injury is very much greater and you may be advised to have a seasoned expedition doctor in the party – who has current experience of trauma management as well as altitude awareness.

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Epistemological and Ethical Issues in Roped Climbing Epistemological and Ethical Issues in Roped Climbing  by jacobsmith

This essay is a continuation of my Theory of Alpinism, a work in progress. Much of the theory is focused on the individual - how and why we, as individuals, climb; what this essay will attempt to understand is why so often this profoundly individual exercise is partaken of collectively. There is a certain practical significance to this, even a non-climber could intuit that two linked by a rope is safer than one, but philosophically the issue is much deeper. In order to examine the ethical justifications and implications for roped climbing we must first examine the place of the individual in our cultural tradition.

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Giancarlo
Grassi, the Man of the Crystal Garden Giancarlo Grassi, the Man of the Crystal Garden  by Silvia Mazzani

Giancarlo Grassi was born in Condove (Piedmont, Italy) in 1946, october the 14th; he dedicated all his life to the mountaineering and was also an excellent writer of guide-books. Alpine Guide, member of the C.A.A.I. (Club Alpino Accademico Italiano) and GHM (Group Haute Montagne), alpinist of world-wide renown, he widely contributed to the popularization of the extreme ice-climbing in the Western Alps.

All the great high level classic routes of his epos, included the Walker Spur on Grandes Jorasses at nineteen, didn’t suffice to Giancarlo to make him considered inside its surroundings. His “palmares” doesn’t include only this kind of ascents; he was one of the greatest pioneers of the technical ice-climbing in the Alps during the second half of the Seventies and the Eighties. He explored numberless high mountain’s gullies and an endless number of ice-falls in all Western Alps main valleys; a specialist of the phantom-gullies climb and indeed a true master of the ice-falls extreme climb. The ruling outlook of the Torinese mountaineering didn’t understand nor accept his climbing way and his value was underestimated through several years.

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L'Affaire Freney L'Affaire Freney  by ericvola

August 29 1961: the ‘Last Great Problem of the Alps’, The Central Pillar of Frêney, is solved by Chris Bonington, Ian Clough, Jan Djuglosz and Don Whillans. But in French eyes the honours go also to René Desmaison, Pierre Julien, Yves Pollet-Villard and Ignacio Piussi. Desmaison seemed unable to accept the facts of the respective Pillar ascents and set about denigrating the British achievement while inflating his own – a fiction in which he was supported by the all-powerful Lucien Devies, the veritable godfather of post-war French mountaineering. Only now, half a century after the landmark climb, has the record been put straight in the French mountaineering press.

I became aware of Desmaison’s claim to have at least shared the first ascent on reading a recent biography of him by Antoine Chandellier, a journalist on Le Dauphiné Libéré, a regional newspaper in the French Alps. Entitled La Montagne en direct – La vie de René Desmaison (Guerin 2010), the book gives René’s version of the celebrated climb. In it Chandellier refers to Chris and Don as ‘an employee of a tinned food manufacturer and a plumber and zinc worker’, implying that no integrity could be expected of such characters. Being a friend of Chris, I saw red and started a quest for the facts.

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Patrick Edlinger Patrick Edlinger  by ericvola

Patrick Edlinger died Friday the 16th of November from a bad fall in his home in La Palud-sur-Verdon (Alpes de Hautes Provence), he was 52.

Patrick was at the start of a phenomenom which occurred late in 1982 with Jean-Paul Janssen's film 'Life by the fingertips' which had the greatest impact ever in the French public by putting an incredible strong light on the beauty and pleasure that rock climbing could bring. The craze he created resulted in large numbers of youngsters adopting rock climbing and most of the schools building climbing walls in the schools vicinities.

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Years on Holy Cross Years on Holy Cross  by Kiefer

At 14,005ft, Mt. of the Holy Cross is the third lowest of the Colorado Fourteeners. This religious and antiquated icon was officially named a Fourteener in 1964 and is the northernmost Fourteener in the massive Sawatch Mountain Range. It is Eagle County’s highest peak, located just outside the small railroad town of Minturn. The peak carries an impressive 2,100ft of prominence yet cannot be seen from I-70, Hwy 24 or even from Tigiwon Road (which means, ‘friend’ in the Ute language). Mt. of the Holy Cross lays well hidden deep within the confines of the Holy Cross Wilderness and is further protected from sight by neighboring Notch Mountain. Although Shrine Pass, so named for its views of the cross, does offer good vistas of the mountain.

The first reported and official sighting of the cross occurred on August 29th, 1869 when a Mr. William Brewer reported seeing a cross of snow from atop the summit of another Fourteener, Gray’s Peak. Undoubtedly, there have been sightings previous to this and one popular legend (since discredited) goes that two Spanish monks, close to death and hopelessly lost in a massive blizzard were ready to just give up and die, freezing to death. Suddenly, the clouds momentarily opened up revealing a cross of snow thus saving the priests from death. Due to the renewed sense of direction, the two priests were able to continue on their way to the New Mexico territory (early 1700’s).

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The 1961
drama of the Central Pillar of Freney The 1961 drama of the Central Pillar of Freney  by ericvola

11th July 1961:


seven climbers are caught in a huge storm on the Frêney Central Pillar, very near the top of Mont-Blanc. Five days later, a helicopter brought three survivors to Courmayeur

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More Poetic
Than Arbitrary – Destination, Return, and Achievement in Mountaineering [Part
2] More Poetic Than Arbitrary – Destination, Return, and Achievement in Mountaineering [Part 2]  by jacobsmith

Most American mountaineers will be familiar with Ed Viesturs’ catchphrase, “summiting is optional, coming home is mandatory.” There are two general interpretations of this statement, and of the entire concept of return. The first, most simple, and probably closest to what Viesturs meant, is to calculate risk so that one lives to fight another day, meaning that even if one must, at one point, give up a summit attempt, one may return, and continue to climb elsewhere, so that the total amount of climbing accomplished is increased in the long term. The other interpretation is best summarized by Willi Unsoeld,

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Determination - Amputee
Climbers Determination - Amputee Climbers  by PAROFES

When we reach a base camp carrying all our junk weighing dozens of pounds, several camps up the mountain assembling and disassembling our tent night after night, we think, and we are right about that, that our life in altitude mountaineering is difficult. Choosing the altitude mountaineering as a sport is not for everyone. Now imagine all these difficulties for a amputee climber, worse!

Let's think a little bit about these humans that without many options, decided not to give up, to face the terrible problems imposed by the intertwining of their lives. A moment so horrific that almost put a definitive end to the body, and the only solution was to amputate, cut off the dead piece to continue living as a disabled person. Now let's imagine that in the life of a climber, someone who can not stay at home, which is super active by the very nature of his psychological profile, practicing the sport that is more a lifestyle than sport, should in fact be devastating. Well, they do exist, we do not need to imagine.

I selected some interesting cases. Climbers, mountaineers who lost almost everything, they lost pieces of themselves, and a case in which the climber lost both legs even with five years of age by genetic defect, and another case in which really challenges the meaning of the word "possible": A boy who was born without arms below the elbow and no legs below the knee. Unbelievable? Prepare to change your mind, let’s see these super humans...

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More Poetic
Than Arbitrary – Destination, Return, and Achievement in Mountaineering [Part
1] More Poetic Than Arbitrary – Destination, Return, and Achievement in Mountaineering [Part 1]  by jacobsmith

As fans of the webcomic xkcd may have noticed, Randall Munroe made a subtle jab at mountaineers in his recent comic, Click and Drag: perched on a mountainside, one stick figure says to another “‘Because its there’ is more poetic than ‘I’m rich enough that my goals are arbitrary.’” His point seems to be that Mallory (originator of the phrase, “because it’s there”) and men like him do what they do because the fight for survival leaves them with an excess of time and energy, prompting them to invent arbitrary goals for personal entertainment. Personally, I take this as a challenge – to make mountaineering goals arbitrary is to trivialize them and make climbing one of many pastimes of the leisure class, of which I do not, categorically, consider myself a part. Mountaineering is not golf or yacht ownership, it is a serious thing, somewhere between an art and a religion, and therefore it cannot have all the meaninglessness that the designation of “arbitrary” assigns. Yet at times it certainly seems arbitrary, and so a more thorough investigations is needed.

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