Vertical Life is a great online climbing magazine put together by a bunch of Australian climbers (you can subscribe to their online magazine here). Every two years, they produce a printed version of the magazine, which features a range of articles and images from the online version. It is edited by Ross Taylor and Simon Madden. The 2016 edition is now available. They describe it as a ‘handsome, collectible print tome that collects all of the best content published in the digital issues of Vertical Life during 2014 and 2015’.

The print version of VL is more a journal than a magazine, in some ways similar to the annual ‘Ascent’ edition of the Rock and Ice magazine put out in the USA, being stronger on reflecting on climbing rather than focusing on the latest new routes. The 2016 offering has a nice set of stories that cover a good cross section of the Australian outdoor climbing scene:

  • A lovely piece about climbing Blade Ridge on Federation Peak in south west Tasmania. Arguably Australia’s longest route, at 600 metres, rarely climbed because of the epic approach,
  • A set of ‘letters to my older/ younger self’, where climbers write a letter to themselves, reflecting on life and climbing (includes a cameo from the legendary Mike Law),
  • A great profile on Australian climbing photographer Glenn Robbins,
  • A profile on Australian climber Mark Moorhead, a phenomenally good climber who graduated from local rock climbing to major mountaineering, climbing in Europe and the Himalayas. He died while on Makalu in 1983, aged just 23.
  • Plus lots of stories on bouldering projects, a good nod to various bits of Australian climbing history, existentialism, a profile of WA climber Logan Barber and Chris Sharma, and a synopsis of key news from the climbing world over the past two years.

It’s good to see a reasonable number of women writing for the magazine and there are some really lovely images from Australia and around the world.

Venturing into print is always a brave venture, especially for niche products like a climbing magazine. Many previous Australian mags have gone down in financial ruin. Please support VL. You can buy it at many newsagents (complete with a wall calendar for 2017) or from their online store.