Canadian Alpine Journal editors’ labour of love< 

click to enlarge The View Up Here The Canadian Alpine Journal has long been a mainstay in Canadian climbing culture
  • The View Up Here The Canadian Alpine Journal has long been a mainstay in Canadian climbing culture

>Since the Alpine Club of Canada published the first Canadian Alpine Journal in 1907, Canada’s record of mountaineering has evolved and changed significantly. It has also endured as the second longest running publication in the country, after Maclean’s magazine.

>This week, as the 2008 CAJ heads to the printer, the publication marks another milestone as Canmore climber and guide Sean Isaac’s name appears as editor on the masthead, following in the very large boots of Geoff Powter, editor since 1993.

>Like climbers — and CAJ readers — before them, both Powter and Isaac admit they were aficionados of the publication long before taking the editorial reins.

>“I was totally thrilled and honoured,” said Powter of first accepting the position. “I think it’s the coolest thing to be involved with the Canadian Alpine Journal. I think it’s a treasure of the Canadian climbing community.”

>For Isaac, becoming editor felt like a natural progression after writing several features for previous issues, and then working as assistant editor for the past three years.

>Prior to taking the helm of the CAJ, Powter had written for climbing magazines and had teamed up with several Calgary climbers to produce a publication called Polar Circus in the late 1980s, which focussed on the cutting edge of climbing — a realm many felt was then missing from the CAJ. Only two issues were ever produced, but they created a ripple in the Canadian climbing community. Arriving in the form of a letter to the editor of the CAJ, one such ripple amounted more of a wave, as its author, a long-time ACC member, suggested it was time for the CAJ to get with the times.

>Upon accepting the job, Powter felt it was his responsibility to do just that. By the mid 1980s climbing experienced an evolution as greater numbers of people took up the activity, likely attracted by the introduction of bolted sport routes that made rock climbing safer and easier to learn.

>“At the time I came in, there was another wave of change taking place in the Canadian climbing community,” Powter said. “There was a real expansion in how it was being practiced, and by whom. The Journal, in many ways, couldn’t be what it had always been before — a vehicle for the Club. It was natural evolution. When I started, it was the only climbing publication in Canada. I felt it had to represent the broadest interest. I also felt it should not be just the record of climbing itself, but also that of the Canadian climbing mind.”

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