Two Alpinist stories from 2017 are included on the Notables List for The Best American Sports Writing 2018: Claire Carter’s feature story “To Abandon” appeared in Alpinist 57 and “The Accidental Mountaineer” by Ana Beatriz Cholo appeared in The Climbing Life section of Alpinist 59.
The Best American Sports Writing is an annual anthology that has been published by Houghton Mifflin since 1991 as part of The Best American Series. In the foreword to the 2018 edition, Series Editor Glenn Stout explains that the book “contains a total of 25 stories, a combination of selections chosen from among 80 stories that were put forward by me as well as the guest editor’s own choices.” Each edition also includes a Notables List of stories that appears in the back of the book.
“To Abandon” is about Carter’s effort as a young poet to retrace some of the travels of Gwen Moffat, a legendary climber and writer who had become Britain’s first female mountain guide in 1953. As Carter follows Moffat’s itinerary through the American West, she tries to understand what it really means to give up everything for the mountains. “How often do we, as climbers, reach out for abandonment?” Carter asks. “Leave the ground to find a swinging freedom; bitter-cold, bittersweet.”
In “The Accidental Mountaineer” Cholo writes of how she found herself in Alaska as part of a team of female military veterans practicing glacier travel as they prepared for a future attempt on Denali (20,310′). Cholo’s story is one of overcoming numerous hardships, including surviving rape and losing her mother to cancer. Amid the vast snow and ice, she discovers a sense of expanded possibilities. “I am the most accidental of all mountaineers,” Cholo writes. And later: “My voice rings out, strong and clear as crystal, soaring across the glacier and into the coming night.” Her story can be found here on Alpinist.com.
Several other Alpinist stories have been included or mentioned in various The Best American Series anthologies over the years. David Stevenson’s essay “A Late and Uninvited Correspondent Responds to Maggie Nelson’s Bluets,” which first appeared in Alpinist 56, made the “Notables List” for The Best American Essays 2017. “Going Home” by Chris Van Leuven (Alpinist 51) was republished in the 2016 edition of Best American Sports Writing. That same year, Katie Ives’s Sharp End column from Alpinist 49 also made the Notable List for Best American Sports Writing. In 2015 Lizzy Scully made the same Notable List for her story “Birth, Sickness, Old Age, Death” in Alpinist 46. In 2014 Helen Mort was noted for her poems on Alison Hargreaves in Alpinist 44. In 2012, Barry Blanchard was noted for his story “Sanctum,” Alpinist 35, and Michael S. Reidy was included in the Notable List for The Best American Science and Nature Writing for “The Rucksack of Joseph Dalton Hooker,” Alpinist 33.
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