David Roberts

“Everest is a shit show,” said Aaron Huey, a National Geographic photographer who is currently documenting the culture of Sherpa guides. Ten years or more ago, I mused, that pronouncement would have stirred up protestations, or at least murmurs. But this May, the Friday morning crowd, coffee mugs in hand, spilling well out the doorway…

“Climbing is about having fun,” says Shane Messer. “That’s what it’s all about. But we’re here tonight to train.” He might have added, To train for the Nationals, but his listeners don’t need to be reminded. What a scene. Around Messer stand some 35 boys and girls, ranging in age from nine to eighteen. From…

In graduate school I took half a dozen “creative writing” classes without learning much at all about how to write. And during nine years of teaching at Hampshire College, in ten or twelve different seminars, I force-fed students recipes culled from my own experience as a scrivener. I don’t think I passed on to those…

You don’t normally think of Mammoth Lakes, California, as a climbing mecca. I’d never been to Mammoth, in fact, before last September, when the Outdoor Writers Association of California (OWAC) invited me to be their “keynote speaker,” where I held forth about the joys and woes of 33 years of freelance writing. During those few…

So you’ve run the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon on a private trip, after waiting a decade for a permit, then jockeying with the hordes of other rafters for prime campsites. Or you’ve done the Middle Fork of the Salmon. Or maybe the Chattooga, as you fantasized about the fate of the four Georgia…

There’s a moment in Sender Films’s new documentary Honnold 3.0 that is utterly terrifying to watch. At age 27, Alex Honnold has emerged as the world’s premier free-solo rock climber. In the film, he’s in the first leg of his “Yosemite Triple”—an attempt to climb the three biggest faces in the Valley, Mount Watkins, El…

More than six decades before Scott reached the South Pole, Sir John Franklin led an expedition into the Canadian Arctic that would turn into the greatest catastrophe in polar history. Attempting the long-sought Northwest Passage, the hypothesized shortcut from Europe to Asia, Franklin set off from England in 1845 with two powerful steam-driven ships, the…

“Great God! This is an awful place,” wrote Robert Falcon Scott in his diary on January 17, 1912. Just hours before, Scott and his four companions had reached the South Pole, only to discover that Roald Amundsen’s team had beaten them there by a month. Nine weeks later, doomed by a combination of starvation, scurvy,…

On January 16, 2012, mountaineering history was made. The actors in the drama were two of the best young alpinists alive—a 21-year-old Coloradan, Hayden Kennedy, and a 24-year-old from British Columbia, Jason Kruk. Their deed took place on a savagely steep needle of granite and rime ice in southern Patagonia called Cerro Torre. Kennedy and…

By David Roberts; Photograph by London News/Getty Images It was the strangest of all races. Two teams of five men each—one British, the other Norwegian—set out at the beginning of the 1911 Antarctic summer, both bent on becoming the first explorers to reach the South Pole. The British team was led by 43-year-old Robert Falcon…