John Harlin III on John Harlin III

John Harlin in his element Dougald MacDonald

My early years were spent in the hills of Germany and the mountains of Switzerland where my father founded the International School of Mountaineering and my mother taught biology.

This content was published on February 14, 2011
John Harlin III

After Dad’s death in 1966, the family moved to the United States, where my mother became a botany professor.

During my teenage years I spent as much time as possible in the wilderness, including several month-long hiking and kayaking trips to the North Slope of Alaska.

Following my graduation from the University of California at Santa Barbara with a degree in Environmental Biology, I married my college sweetheart, Adele Hammond, and explored mountain ranges throughout North and South America.

During that time I wrote a three-volume, 1,200-page series of guidebooks, The Climber’s Guide to North America. I also worked as a climbing guide in Colorado and launched a backcountry guiding business, Ski-Mountaineering Unlimited.

Backpacker & Summit, American Alpine Journal

In 1987 I took on the first of several editorial positions at Backpacker magazine and later became a guest host on their PBS program, Anyplace Wild. I also edited Summit: The Mountain Journal for five years as well as the quarterly magazine Elements, from the Timberland Company, and a book, Lost Lhasa: Heinrich Harrer’s Tibet. For five years I chaired Polartec’s annual grants to adventure, and for a few years longer I chaired the American Alpine Club’s mountain literature award. I also served as a judge at the Telluride and Banff Mountain film festivals.

Currently I’m the editor of the American Alpine Journal (published by the American Alpine Club since 1929) and a contributing editor to Backpacker magazine.

The Alps & The Eiger Obsession

Forty years after Dad fell 1,000 meters down the Eiger, I finally climbed its north face myself. MacGillivray-Freeman Films made an IMAX movie, The Alps, of the ascent; the film also featured Adele and our then-nine-year-old daughter, Siena, as we explored various regions in Switzerland, including Ticino.

I’ve presented The Alps to IMAX-theatre audiences in seven countries, as well as to many special events on behalf of Switzerland Tourism. At Switzerland’s only IMAX theatre (in Lucerne), The Alps played for over a year and was their biggest hit, ever.

Adele, Siena, and I live in Oaxaca, Mexico and Hood River, Oregon.
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