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Jim McCarthy Was First Climber on Sports Illustrated

American climber Jim McCarthy was the first climber to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated back in 1958. Meredith Corp. has announced that Sports Illustrated, one of the world’s most iconic sports publications, acquired from Time Inc. just last November along with Time magazine, Money magazine and Fortune, is for sale for US$1.8 billion.

In 1963, McCarthy established Yukon Tears on the Proboscis, Southeast Face in the Cirque of the Unclimbables in the Northwest Territories with Layton Kor, Royal Robbins and Dick McCracken.

Five years later, he made the first ascent of the now-classic Southeast Face 5.10 up Lotus Flower Tower with Tom Frost and Sandy Bill, which appeared on the cover of the 1969 Ascent magazine.

Jim McCarthy in Sports Illustrated in 1958

It was the second ascent of the peak and their route landed in the book Fifty Classic Climbs of North America. Back in New York, he made the first ascent of the famous 5.11 Foops when it was still an aid climb. In Wyoming, he helped establish early development of the West Face of Devil’s Tower and he led the first step-less ascent of Mount Washington’s notorious Pinnacle Gully in 1970. McCarthy established the Tetons Grand Traverse with Lito Tejada-Flores in 1966.

Ahead of his Time

In 2000, he was elected vice-president of the UIAA and helped save Camp 4 from closing down when the Park Service planned to build three-story dormitories on the site. He then established the Bates Award for youth and gave the first one to Chris Sharma and Katy Brown.

In 2014, Jim McCarthy was anointed the American Alpine Clubs’s Honorary President. American Alpine Club Executive Director Phil Powers said, “Jim was ahead of his time in opening our club to young climbers and making the club more relevant during his Presidency. He continues to be one of my main advisers. His support and wisdom are invaluable.”

Jim McCarthy on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1958