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Editor’s note: This article, adapted from No Limits But the Sky: The Best Mountaineering Stories from Appalachia Journal (AMC Books, 2014), originally appeared in the November 1896 issue of Appalachia. The four climbers involved—author Fay, Charles S. Thompson, George Little, and the group’s leader, Philip Stanley Abbot—were attempting the first ascent of 11,230-foot Mount Lefroy in…

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Within half a minute of beginning my first rock climb in years the best thing happens: I fall. I am just starting up the route called California Carpool (“as in everyone drives their own,” someone says). A bulge near the bottom arguably has what climbers would call this route’s crux, or hardest part, if only…

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