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Paula Wright

Fanny Bullock Workman with her Votes for Women sign. [Photo] William Hunter Workman, Wikimedia Commons

Of Monuments and Mountains

In this Sharp End story from Alpinist 71–which is now on some newsstands and in our online store–Deputy Editor Paula Wright observes, “Today the phrase ‘keep politics out of climbing’ frequently pops up in online comments–as though by disregarding the larger context of our expeditions or by censoring certain facts, we might emerge onto a fantasy plane where the messy realities of our societies and the airy brilliance of an alpine summit never intersect. Yet we are living in a time of overlapping crises and movements that no one can ignore.”

[Photo] Noman Gilgiti. Manipulation: Robin Earle

Roaming in Place

In this Sharp End essay from Alpinist 70, Alpinist Deputy Editor Paula Wright reflects on words by Nan Shepherd while sheltering in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. Wright writes, “To allow yourself extended periods without frenetic motion is itself a cultivated practice. As the mountain would teach: there is value in being still…. In times of crisis, we have the opportunity to recalibrate our relationships with each other, with our activities and with the land.”

Ines Papert at the Glacier des Pelerins in front of the slopes of Mont Blanc during her attempt at a historical reenactment of Mary Isabella Straton's first winter ascent, with two guides, in 1876. [Photo] Thomas Senf

1876: A Winter’s Tale

In this Mountain Profile essay from Alpinist 69–which is now available on newsstands and in our online store–Alpinist Deputy Editor Paula Wright describes the first winter ascent of Mont Blanc in 1876, by Mary Isabella Straton, Jean Charlet, Sylvain Couttet and Michel Balmat. “Women are capable of everything,” historian Charles Durier later wrote in his book, Le Mont-Blanc.

Katie Sauter in the Henry S. Hall Jr. American Alpine Club Library, Golden, Colorado. [Photo] Laura Sauter

Local Hero: Katie Sauter

Whether they’ve collected summits, books or memories, many climbers long to preserve records of the past. In this Local Hero story from Alpinist 68–which is now available on newsstands and in our online store–Paula Wright presents the person responsible for cataloguing and managing one of the most extensive of these collections: Katie Sauter, director of the Henry S. Hall Jr. American Alpine Club Library.

This photograph of the Himalaya was taken from the International Space Station in 2004. Visible from left to right are: Makalu, Chomolungma (Everest), Lhotse and Cho Oyu. [Photo] Courtesy of NASA, Wikimedia

Human Dimensions of Climate Change in the Himalaya: An interview with anthropologist Pasang Yangjee Sherpa

Alpinist Managing Editor Paula Wright interviewed Pasang Yangjee Sherpa for the Alpinist Podcast in 2017 and followed up with her again this month. Born in Kathmandu, Yangjee Sherpa is an anthropologist who specializes in the human dimensions of climate change in the Himalaya. She says that “mountaineers are really well equipped to be advocates for talking about climate change…because of the kind of intimate relationship mountaineers have with the natural landscape, with mountains, snow and glaciers…. So I would like mountaineers to speak more about it and share what they know with the public.”

Anders Ax, pictured here with Lumi the dog at Washington Pass, June 2017. Ax began working as an intern for Alpinist in the winter of 2013, but his familiarity with the magazine started much earlier. While in high school, Ax saw a copy of Issue 16 on a newsstand in the Charles de Gaulle airport and was taken by the cover photo: Tomas Bambus Bardas muscling his way up the overhanging sandstone in Teplice. After his Alpinist internship ended in early 2014, Ax moved West to teach outdoor education. He returned to Vermont that winter to work as a snowboard instructor at Smugglers' Notch, just up the road from the Alpinist parent company office, Height of Land. He stopped by the office one day and offered his services as a fact checker and has been working for Alpinist ever since. [Photo] Courtesy of Anders Ax

Q&A with Alpinist Assistant Research Editor Anders Ax

Every story in Alpinist is thoroughly fact-checked. “Fact checking” has become a more common term in today’s digital headlines, as accusations of “fake news” and “alternative facts” abound in our society. In this feature, Alpinist Associate Editor Paula Wright interviews Alpinist Research Editor Anders Ax about the strategy and nuance of exhaustive fact-checking and how he handles the most difficult questions that may not have definitive answers.

Art of Freedom: The Life and Climbs of Voytek Kurtyka by Bernadette McDonald. Rocky Mountain Books, 2017. 326 pages. Hardcover, $32. [Image] Courtesy Rocky Mountain Books

Glimpses of Higher Worlds: Bernadette McDonald’s ‘Art of Freedom’

“‘Art of Freedom,’ is a brilliant work of insight, not only into the life of the great alpinist, but also about the questions that compel us to the mountains in the first place,” writes Alpinist Associate Editor Paula Wright in her feature about Bernadette McDonald’s award-winning biography, “Art of Freedom: The Life and Climbs of Voytek Kurtyka.”

Emile Rey, Katharine Richardson and J.B. Bich at the foot of the statue of Horace Benedict de Saussure and Jacques Balmat, Chamonix, France, 1890. [Photo] Courtesy of the Alpine Club

Through the Telescope

In this Mountain Profile essay from Alpinist 60, Associate Editor Paula Wright tells the story of a lasting partnership between two leading female alpinists and their adventures on la Meije in the late 1800s.

William Coolidge with his aunt, Meta Brevoort, their guides Christian Almer (far left) and Ulrich Almer (Christian's son, second left,) and dog Tschingel, circa 1874. [Photo] Courtesy of the Alpine Club

Marguerite ‘Meta’ Claudia Brevoort: 1825-1876

In 1870, Marguerite ‘Meta’ Claudia Brevoort attempted to become the first climber, male or female, to stand atop the highest point of la Meije, one of the last great unclimbed Alps in the Massif des Ecrins in France. In this Mountain Profile essay from Alpinist 59, Associate Editor Paula Wright relates the adventurous life of Brevoort, her nephew William Coolidge, and their dog, Tschingel, whose list of Alpine summits earned her an honorary membership in the exclusive Alpine Club.

One of the oldest eastern white cedars on the cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment. This tree germinated in the year 1134, making it 883 years old today. Climbers likely trimmed the branches on its northern side to make way for a climbing route in 1992. At the time of the photograph, two living branches on the south side of the tree were keeping it alive, though scientists haven't been back to survey whether it survives today. [Photo] Peter Kelly


Early expeditions often combined the exploration of new heights with a search for rare botanical specimens. More than a century after both natural history and mountaineering fractured into subdisciplines, Associate Editor Paula Wright explores the impacts of climbing’s science gap and the need for a more unified focus on conservation in this Wired story from Alpinist 58.