Sport: How to Lose Fear

The blinding white grandeur of Mont Blanc, soaring above the blue lake at Chamonix, has drawn alpinists to France for centuries. Since men first scaled Western Europe's highest peak in 1786, some 20,000 people have successfully climbed to the top (15,781 ft.), and 65 have died on the way. But in all those years, mountaineers mastered only four routes to the peak itself. Attempted but never conquered was a possible fifth way, the Grand Pilastre, a 5,000-ft. perpendicular wall of gripless, smooth rock and slithery green ice that looms over empty space toward...

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