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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

2008 AAJ Off to the Printer

Each year I've worked on the American Alpine Journal, I've vowed that I'll get my sections done earlier—that I'll spread the enormous workload over more months. And each year I and the other editors endure an exhausting push to complete the 500-page book sometime close to our deadline. Now this year's book is finally done—late, as usual—but off to the printers at last.

The AAJ is the Grade VII big wall of climbing and mountaineering publications. Although there are brief moments of excitement and even joy in producing this book, most of the process is just painstaking, seemingly endless labor. And, like those who've never done a big wall, people who haven't worked on projects similar to the AAJ can't really understand what's involved. It's just very, very difficult, in ways that surprise me each year. The sheer volume of work and the weeks of brain-frying attention to minute details are not compensated with anything like a professional salary, given the time invested. Yet I wouldn't trade this work for anything else. For one thing, I get to work with fascinating individuals from around the world—this year, in my sections of the AAJ, I worked with authors from 17 different countries. (How cool is that?) I get to collaborate with an extraordinary team of fellow editors and designers: John Harlin, Kelly Cordes, Lindsay Griffin, Steve Roper, Joe Kelsey, Adele Hammond, and Dan Gambino—a dream team. And there is a great sense of pride that comes from working on a journal that's been continuously published for 79 years and is absolutely unique in the world. Truly, it's a privilege.

Now, pour me a drink. I need one.

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