One of climbing’s great Renaissance men, Ed Webster, 66, died of natural causes at his Maine home on November 22. Friend and climbing historian Jeff Achey described Webster as “one of the most important rock climbers of his era, on par, in his unique way, with John Bachar, Henry Barber and Jimmy Dunn.” Webster blazed new routes from Cathedral Ledge to Colorado, to the Utah desert and, with three friends in 1988, to Chomolungma’s Kangshung Face. A route that Reinhold Messner endorsed as “the best ascent of Everest in terms and style of pure adventure.” Beyond the climbs, Webster was also a consummate writer and author, and his words still ring today.
Cameron M. Burns
One of the greatest South American mountain scholars has passed. Evelio Echevarria died in October 2020 of colon cancer. Echevarria stands out in the mountaineering world for the massive amount of exploration and research of the Andes he did over the course of his life. He wrote more than 90 reports for the American Alpine Journal and sent a similar amount of information to the British Alpine Journal. “He was one of a small, select handful of mountain writers who were worth their weight in gold, in terms of their depth of interest and rigorous approach,” said Alpine Journal editor Ed Douglas. “His loss might go unremarked by many climbers but those operating in South America will have benefited from his effort and attention to detail.”
Virologists agree that COVID-19 can remain infectious on rock, and that climbers who touch common holds on the stone–or any surfaces–have an increased risk of contracting the coronavirus. “If someone carrying COVID-19 touched rock–or coughed or sneezed on it–there’s clear evidence suggesting that, yes, COVID-19 may be contracted via contaminated rock or plastic,” said Levi Yant, an associate professor of evolutionary genomics at the University of Nottingham (UK) and a climber. Given that the virus is known to last the longest not just on plastic, but also steel, climbers should also be mindful when considering routes that have fixed hardware, including bolts, quickdraws and/or steel chain or permadraws.
COFFEE LIFTS ON THE AIR. A dog marks time (and place) in the distance, its tail a silent metronome. The cold air, gently sinking, pulls a breeze across my face. I don’t like it. I want to crawl deeper in my bag. From the floor of the living room in John “Deucey” Midddendorf’s Hurricane home, I can just see the top of Mt. Kinesava, I think, starting to light up in the eastern sun.