>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
>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.”