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Sep 24, 2020

"Mark Twight began his self-described “descent into the black depths of extreme alpinism” in 1984. “This obsession,” as he wrote in the essay, “Kiss or Kill,” “destroyed my relationships, drove me into depression, and changed me from a happy, future-hopeful young man into an embittered cynic.” Twight is well-known for pushing the margins, both in his climbs and in his writing. In 1988, he and Randy Rackliff made the first ascent of “The Reality Bath,” a 600-meter ice climb in the Canadian Rockies that has yet to be repeated. That same year, Twight joined Barry Blanchard, Ward Robinson and Kevin Doyle in an alpine-style attempt of Nanga Parbat’s Rupal Face. The climbers reached 7700 meters before a storm forced them to retreat amid lightning and multiple avalanches. In his writing of the same era, Twight often adopted a bold, brusque voice that earned him the persona “Dr. Doom.” Now a classic of mountain literature, the 2001 anthology Kiss or Kill includes writing that helped canonize the Dr. Doom persona, who delivered lines such as, “The new climbs of the age are yesterday’s death routes,” and “Punish your body to perfect your soul.” Twight stepped away from extreme alpinism in 2000. In his recently released book of photography, Refuge, Twight reflected, “Twenty-five of my years were governed by the demands imposed by mountains and climbing them, and the most difficult challenge I faced after having survived was to find satisfaction in the valley.” Deputy editor Paula Wright spoke with Twight at the Banff Mountain Book and Film Festival in November 2019.

[Photo] Mike Thurk"