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Vermont author maps 1960s mountain climbing hoax in 'Imaginary Peaks'

The book "Imaginary Peaks" by author Katie Ives stands on a wooden table in front of a red brick wall.
Mikaela Lefrak, book cover design by Jen Grable via Mountaineers Books
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Cambridge, Vt. author Katie Ives chronicles a mountain-climbing hoax in her book "Imaginary Peaks."

Mountains hold near-magical places in our imaginations: hulking, immovable and unpredictable in ways human-made structures are not. In her new book Imaginary Peaks: The Riesenstein Hoax and Other Mountain Dreams, Vermont author Katie Ives tells the story of blank spaces on maps, and the pull to explore and fill them in.

Ives documents the story of the Riesenstein Hoax, in which three pranksters in the early 1960s convinced a leading climbing magazine to publish a story about a fake mountain range in Canada.

Ives is the editor-in-chief of the Alpinist magazine, a quarterly publication about climbing, and an avid climber herself.

In her interview with Vermont Edition co-host Mikaela Lefrak, Ives said her favorite local climbing activity is to summit Vermont peaks right at sunset, and watch the sun go down over the snowy landscape.

Listen to the full interview to hear more from Ives about her book, and how Indigenous traditions informed her writing.

Broadcast live on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022 at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or tweet us @vermontedition.

Mikaela Lefrak joined Vermont Public in 2021 as co-host and senior producer of Vermont Edition. Her stories have aired nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Marketplace, The World and Here & Now. A seasoned local reporter, Mikaela has won two regional Edward R. Murrow awards and a Public Media Journalists Association award for her work.