Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Thesenga Returns to Climbing Mag

As the climbing world turns! Jonathan Thesenga, former editor of Climbing magazine, is returning to the magazine as its new editor. Fans of the ongoing climbing-magazine soap operas will recall that Thesenga was fired in 2003 by corporate boss Primedia after a New Year's Eve party at Joshua Tree where he set fire to some white gas poured on a campground rock face. It will be amusing to see how JT's phoenix-like rebirth is greeted; I can hear the moaning and gnashing of teeth now from certain quarters. Obviously, his stunt was stupid, but he has expressed sincere contrition for it and he paid the price, including a hefty fine and the loss of his job. Personally, I reacted the same way I do when someone I know gets nabbed for drunk driving: It's completely inexcusable, of course, but who among us hasn't been over the limit at some point and just managed to get away with it? I felt Primedia overreacted with its summary execution of JT, and I find it fascinating that they're now willing to take him back—and willing to take the resulting heat.

Fact is, there just aren't that many good editors out there with strong climbing backgrounds. I'm biased and my opinion is suspect, of course, because I do a lot of work for Climbing and hope to continue under JT's new reign, so anything I say might be considered sucking up. But even though JT was only at the helm of Climbing for a single year, and thus didn't have much chance to exert his full influence, I liked what he was doing. He brings some youthful vitality to the mag but also a deep appreciation for the full range of the climbing experience, from bouldering to the biggest mountains. And he's a good writer: His story about Czech sandstone climbing in R&I 144 (Sept. 2005) was one of the funniest climbing stories I've read in years. I haven't talked to him yet, but I'll bet he's been thinking a lot about what Climbing magazine could and should be. It's not often you get a second chance like this one. I hope Thesenga makes the most of his return from exile.

3 comments:

twspri said...

Do you know what happened to Jeff Achey? Bigger and better things?

Anonymous said...

JA is still on the CLIMBING team and writing exclusively for the mag in an editor-at-large position. He has played an integral part in filling his former "in-house" position and will continue to shape the vision & future success of CLIMBING Magazine. Keep an eye out for JA gracing the pages of CM with noteworthy climbing adventure.....sometime very soon.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I cancelled my subscription after I heard he was chopping routes. Then he set J-Tree on fire. Needless to say, I won't be starting a new subscription to Climbing anytime soon. If this is their "vision" it is no wonder R&I is kicking their ass all over the place.