Alpinist shuts down magazine, website and film festival

Alpinist LLC, which publishes the climbing magazine Alpinist, runs the website www.alpinist.com, and produces The Alpinist Film Festival, announced that the October 2008 financial crisis has forced them to suspend operations.

Founded in 2002 by Marc Ewing and Christian Beckwith, Alpinist began in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, as an archival-quality publication dedicated to world alpinism and adventure climbing. The quarterly quickly gained a reputation for both superior writing and beautiful photography; by 2004, Italian climbing legend Reinhold Messner called it, "The best climbing magazine in the world today." Alpinist went on to win numerous awards; in March 2005 it was featured in a seven-page article in Outside Magazine ("The Purists") that explored its impact on American climbing.

Alpinist's website, www.alpinist.com, attracted more than 50,000 unique visitors per month. Breaking news, weekly features, video, and desktop wallpaper images were complemented by reader's blogs and gear reviews, creating a site that thousands of climbers turned to daily for both information and entertainment.

In 2004, Beckwith founded The Barry Corbet Film Festival in honor of cinematographer and adventure legend Barry Corbet. In 2005, the event was folded into Alpinist LLC as The Alpinist Film Festival (AFF). By 2008, the AFF, held each winter in Jackson, had grown to a four-day annual event that attracted more than 3,000 people each year. In 2008, the AFF began touring; events in Bend, OR; Bozeman, MT; and Boulder, CO, exported signature elements of the master festival, such as cocktail hours and live DJs, to create a fun gathering for adventure communities across the West.

"We're extremely proud of what we've been able to accomplish in the six and a half years since we started," said Publisher Ewing from his home in Chicago. "There hasn't been a publication like Alpinist since Ascent"—the iconic climbing publication that emerged from the 1960s to inspire a generation of climbers—"and our readers have been our lifeblood. We owe them everything."

"It's incredibly sad to close after working so hard for so many years," said Editor-in-Chief Christian Beckwith. "That being said, I'm deeply proud of our team for putting out twenty-five great issues, the film festival has been a blast, and I'm honored to have shared all this work and creation with our community. I'll always look back on Alpinist with joy."

Exploration of the options for the various Alpinist businesses are underway. Details will be made available on www.alpinist.com when they are finalized.

Filed under: People & Organizations

Comments

Bill S
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October 28, 2008 at 2:13 p.m. (EDT)

This is a huge loss for the climbing community. There are still some back issues available, obviously becoming collector's items immediately. Even non-climbers seem to find the magazine really exciting, with the fantastic photography and excellent writing. Each issue was like a coffee-table book.

The remaining climbing magazines that cover the whole range of climbing activities, Climbing and Rock&Ice are doing ok, though the current economic climate will be a test. There are other climbing-oriented magazines that are more niche (like Urban Climber). But nothing like Alpinist.

GaryPalmer
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October 28, 2008 at 4:43 p.m. (EDT)

Yes, we here in Jackson will miss the popular magazine Alpinist. We will have now have to find a new bathroom reading material here at Bill Briggs household.
Do you know who Bill Briggs is and what he did as a first in the early 1970's?

Bill S
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October 29, 2008 at 1:05 a.m. (EDT)

Some football player who did a risky thing with boards on his feet in 1971. Kind of the inverse of Glenn Exxum who went up the same area with football cleats. (don't want to spoil the fun for others who might want to chime in).

GaryPalmer
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October 29, 2008 at 1:04 p.m. (EDT)

Nope, Bill Briggs was the first to ski off the top of Grand Teton in 1972.

Alicia
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October 29, 2008 at 3:56 p.m. (EDT)

Bill Briggs is also a Maine native and grew up just a few towns away from where we live, which was kind of cool to learn when "Steep" came out.

Bill S
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October 29, 2008 at 8:51 p.m. (EDT)

Briggs skied the Grand June 16, 1971 and was a high school football player in his youth (no, not the NFL pro of the same name). I just had to put in the connection with Exxum's climb of the Grand with football shoes on, obscure as it is. Briggs did not ski the whole distance top to bottom (that came years later), but rappelled a couple pitches. I met him the only time I skied at Snow King (we were skiing at Targhee and decided to drive over the hill for the day - Targhee is much superior... or was before the present ownership).

GaryPalmer
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October 30, 2008 at 9:20 a.m. (EDT)

I have lived in Bill's house now for about 4 years off and on. The rent here is the cheapest in town at $275, other than camping. He is in his 70's now and is a very good guy. He still is the head of the American Ski School and goes out everyday in winter to work on the routes on Snow King.
He still sells photo posters showing his route off the Grand.
He plays his banjo every sunday night over in Wilson.

Bill S
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October 30, 2008 at 12:39 p.m. (EDT)

I just realized that my comment on Briggs' rappelling a section during his ski descent of the Grand might sound like I was saying it wasn't a "real" ski descent. It was and is recognized by the whole BC ski community as THE FIRST ski descent of the Grand, and remains one of the few ski descents of the Grand (very few parts of the route you could get me on with skis!). I checked with a friend who is an extreme skier and has skied the Grand, and he told me the rappel section was the one 50-meter section that I have rappelled when descending the Grand after summer climbs. Most people, including Briggs, do it as a single rappel, though originally and sometimes still, it is done as 2 rappels. There are a number of major ski descents that have been done with a few rappel sections and some include skiing on belay.

Briggs also did the first ski traverse from the Bugs to Rogers Pass (with some companions), and lots of other firsts, so he is sort of the "father" of extreme skiing.

Alicia
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January 8, 2009 at 2:40 p.m. (EST)

Update on Alpinist from Folio:

http://www.foliomag.com/2009/mountain-climbing-magazine-cult-following-sold-71k-live-phone-auction

Alpinist, a 9,000-circulation quarterly about alpine-style mountain climbing which ceased publication in October, has been sold. According to a source, the six-year-old, high-gloss, high production-value magazine with a small but passionate community of climbers, was sold via a “live phone auction” for—wait for it—$71,000.

The buyer is Height of Land Publications, Vermont-based publisher of Backcountry magazine. The seller, Marc Ewing, had pumped at least $2 million into Alpinist, but failed to bring it to profitability. The magazine launched in 2002.

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