Manless Alpine Climbing (1934) – Miriam O’Brien Underhill

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Miriam O’Brien Underhill (1898 – 1976) was an American mountaineer, environmentalist, and feminist who had a profound impact on the culture of climbing. Her essay, Manless Alpine Climbing for National Geographic in 1934, explains her mountaineering philosophy.

“Very early, I realized that the person who invariably climbs behind a good leader…may never really learn mountaineering at all and in any case enjoys only part of the varied delights and rewards of climbing. … I did realize that if women were really to lead, that is, to take the entire responsibility for the climb, there couldn’t be any man at all in the party.”

Her philosophy continues to transcend all climbing spaces and disciplines.

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