Chris Kalman wants you to know that he doesn’t want to be famous anymore, not for writing and not for climbing. There was a time when he sought out heavy-hitting publishers and an agent to whisk him to climbing writing fame. This paradigm does not exist. There was a time when he was willing to give his life to the mountains, if that meant glory on the sharp end. This barter, also, doesn’t really exist.
Chris, after a life of honing his voice and etching his craft, has cemented his status as one of the foremost writers in the outdoor adventure realm. He’s diversified his portfolio by chance, risk, and following the muse when it strikes. Kalman has penned pieces for almost every major outdoor publication in the country. He writes for the American Alpine Club and hosts it’s “The Cutting Edge Podcast.” He wrote a guidebook for Index, WA. After tragedy and loss flooded his life, he hunkered down and wrote his first novella, “As Above, So Below,” a spare and stunning rumination on what climbing and risk cost in a world given meaning by human relationships.
Chris has etched out first ascents, mostly adventure-style, all over the world. He’s been awarded grants and partnered with some of the finest climbers in the business. But where he’s found his true place in our tribe is with his voice, whether notching another byline, publishing a rare and esteemed book of climbing fiction, doing spoken-word shorts for “Dirtbag Diaries,” or slogging through a guidebook for Sharp End Publishing.
In episode 34 we follow along as Chris relays his long journey from a little kid’s wonder with the written word, to his discovery of climbing and his evolution to alpine first ascents, to the dirty work of finding his way in the tiny, competitive, and often pauper’s world of outdoor adventure writing. Finally, we take a deep dive into the inspiration that drove him to pen “As Above, So Below,” a book I believe will find it’s place in the pantheon of classic mountain literature. It’s a hell of a ride.
Chris was kind enough to offer Thundercling listeners a tidy discount on the novella. Listen to the pod and then head over to www.chriskalman.com and pick up “As Above, So Below” for a heavy discount by typing in the code THUNDER. I can’t vigorously enough recommend this book. It’s a three hour read that will vibrate in your soul for weeks after closing the cover. It’s an inspired piece of writing. It’s going to be a classic.
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