“I Write for Katie”: How Katie Ives Climbs Mountains at ‘Alpinist’
A revered figure in modern climbing literature, Katie Ives is known for her intense work ethic and for encouraging writers who weren’t always invited to the club. In her first book, she explores how the physical and fantastical aspects of big peaks have, for centuries, inspired human dreams.
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Katie Ives still laughs about the bungled adjective that saved her life.
She was high in the Tetons more than a decade ago, at the crux of an ice-plastered climb. Night was falling. Her hands were wooden from the cold, and a fall spelled death. In that dire moment, Ives did not pray for safe deliverance. She did not consider the grief of family and friends when they heard the news. She did not mourn the loss of a dream career.
“What went through my head were the proofs sitting on my desk at home,” says the editor in chief of Alpinist magazine. “And the fact that one of my writers wrote something she hadn’t meant to write. And if I die, people are going to think my writer doesn’t know the difference between nauseous and nauseated.”
Limbs invigorated by this peril, Ives made the move, rushed to Alpinist’s office in Jackson, Wyoming, corrected the error, and saved the writer—her writer—from unthinkable embarrassment.
“It’s a funny story,” Ives says. “But it says more about who I was then rather than who I am now.” She objects when I point out that the mistake was extraordinarily forgettable and the correction overly perfectionistic.
“I don’t want to perpetuate the myth that I’m a perfectionist,” she tells me. “Say that I care about craft.”
Ives’s care for craft runs deep. As Tami Knight, her friend and a frequent Alpinist contributor, puts it: “Katie has been Katie since Katie started being Katie.”