While attending Functional Fabric Fair in Portland this year, I came upon some copies of Summit Magazine, part of Utah State University’s Outdoor Recreation Archive exhibit, and could not forget them.
After some research I discovered the source of their magic.
Jene Crenshaw and Helen Kilness started the magazine in 1955 and worried that readers might not purchase an outdoor magazine run by two female publishers, listed themselves as “J. M. Crenshaw” and “H.V.J. Kilness” on the masthead. “It was a man’s world,” Jene says of the Fifties. “I didn’t resent it. It was just the facts of life.” 1
They published America’s first monthly climbing magazine from a brown shingled house enfolded by boulders, perched on top of its own granite crag above Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains. And from 1955 to 1989, they occupied a constant, often hidden, presence in mountain writing. 2
The strength of their passion for the mountains and its people came through in the magazine’s imaginal form.
There have been attempts to revive it. The latest is by Michael Levy who acquired the rights this year and announced that the title would relaunch in 2024 as Summit Journal. He is an editor, writer and climber. It seems his heart is in the same place as Jene Crenshaw’s and Helen Kilness’s.
1 Katie Ives: A House of Stone and Snow. February 25, 2015; Alpinist 49. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
2 Ives, A House of Stone and Snow.