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–All Inventory Lost–

–Subscriptions and Company Operations to Continue Without Interruption–

On December 5, at approximately 11 a.m. CST, an Oregon, Illinois, warehouse that contained all of Alpinist Magazine’s inventory–back issues, hats, shirts, water bottles, stickers, coffee mugs–burned to the ground. Nothing was salvaged.

According to news reports, a forklift operator backed into a gas line in the warehouse, which was owned by the Kable News Company, a fulfillment company that provides subscription services for magazines such as Alpinist. The forklift punctured a gas line; the escaping gas was then ignited by a nearby space heater. The warehouse’s twenty employees escaped without injury, but by the time the 200-plus firefighters arrived from twenty area fire departments to combat the blaze, there was little they could do but let the two-story building burn to the ground.

Rockford, Illinois’, WREX-TV reported Oregon Fire Chief Don Heller as saying that the building was essentially “a box of timber.” “And we’re still trying to figure out why the sprinkler system was shut off in this building,” Heller, who estimated the damage at as much as $8 million, was quoted as saying.

For the Jackson, Wyoming-based Alpinist LLC, the fire came at a particularly critical time.

“The destruction of our entire inventory, including all our back issues, would have been bad enough. This one, though, came in the middle of the holidays–our bread-and-butter season,” said Alpinist publisher Marc Ewing. “We’re dealing with details such as insurance and inventory loss at the moment, but the fire hasn’t affected subscription fulfillment in the least.”

“The silver lining has been the response from the climbing community,” said Alpinist co-founder Christian Beckwith. “We’ve received emails of support from around the world, and numerous readers have resubscribed or subscribed for the first time. Regardless of what it means to us as a business, as climbers the value of such responses is immense.”

Hailed by Italian climbing legend Reinhold Messner as “The best climbing magazine in the world today,” Alpinist Magazine is an archival-quality, quarterly publication dedicated to world alpinism and adventure climbing. Alpinist owners and employees are continuing to finish work on Issue 23, which is due to ship to the printers on December 13 (it will be in stores March 1, 2008). They are also continuing their work on The 2008 Alpinist Film Festival, which is being held January 17-20, 2008, in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

“We’ve put far too much work into Alpinist to let a fire slow us down,” said Ewing. “But we are thinking of creating a commemorative t-shirt that reads, ‘Official Alpinist Fork Lift Operator’. One day, we want to look back on this and have a good laugh.”