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THE BOND: Survival On Denali And Mount Huntington
By Simon McCartney
In 1977, Jack Roberts, a California “Stone Master” and experienced young alpinist, met Simon McCartney, a highly motivated 22-year-old Brit who had cut his teeth climbing in Europe with some of the most respected mountaineers of the time. Over the next three years, the pair enjoyed a magical partnership during which they completed two of the boldest and most audacious climbs in the history of Alaskan alpinism. Then McCartney disappeared from the climbing scene entirely, emerging now, nearly 40 years later, to tell the story.
The north face of Mount Huntington is one of the most dangerous walls in the Alaska Range, and Denali’s southwest face is one of the largest and most technically difficult. Roberts and McCartney made the first ascents of both, eschewing any notion of fixed ropes or siege tactics. With success as their only option, they got themselves to the foot of these faces with the bare minimum of gear and simply started climbing. The ascent of Mount Huntington’s north face was made in the summer of 1978; that of Denali’s southwest face, in 1980.
These two legendary climbs created a stir at the time, and a flurry of controversy and criticism followed the Denali climb. Years later, some people went so far as to suggest that the Huntington climb was a fake. Jack Roberts passed away in 2012 without telling his side of the story publicly.
The Bond, told primarily via McCartney’s first-person narrative and augmented by extracts from the diaries of Roberts and others, shares for the first time the experience of these two challenging climbs—and the strong bond forged between the two climbers. It is, in short, the quintessential climbing story, and the stuff of Legends and Lore.
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