Rock & Ice and Trail Runner Sold To Former Climbing Mag Publisher

As SNEWS forecast last week Duane Raleigh, former publisher of Climbing Magazine, and Quent Williams, former production manager of Climbing, have acquired Rock & Ice and Trail Runner magazines from North South Publications.

As SNEWS forecast last week Duane Raleigh, former publisher of Climbing Magazine, and Quent Williams, former production manager of Climbing, have acquired Rock & Ice and Trail Runner magazines from North South Publications. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but we did learn that Raleigh and Williams -- Big Stone Publishing Inc. -- are the sole investors.

The deal was inked Wednesday evening, May 15 and, at that time, all 16 employees, including publisher Dougald MacDonald and Trail Runner editor Brian Metzler effectively became unemployed. All day Thursday, May 16, Raleigh was in Boulder interviewing any now-former staff that wished to move to Carbondale, Col., the new home of both magazines.

Raleigh also told SNEWS that he absolutely wanted to hang onto Metzler simply because of the great work he has done with Trail Runner and the possibilities that Raleigh sees for the magazine.

"We will be adding another full-time staff member for Trail Runner and see great potential for the title," Raleigh said. "The trail running market is much bigger than the climbing market without question."

Metzler was very happy with the turn of events and told us he was working closely with Raleigh to lay the groundwork for his continued involvement and expansion of the magazine's influence.

MacDonald, on the other hand, is now out of a job.

"I neither solicited nor endorsed this sale," MacDonald said in an email sent to friends and to SNEWS. I would have preferred to continue developing the business we started nearly five years ago. But I only own a fraction of North South Publications, parent of R&I and TR, and my partners were eager to find a buyer."

The new offices for Big Stone Publishing are in Carbondale, less than a few minutes walk from the Climbing Magazine publishing digs.

Although it is unclear just how many former Boulder-based employees will be willing or able to make the move to Carbondale, Raleigh did tell us that ultimately they are planning to run with a staff of 20. Some of those employees may also come from the ranks of current Climbing staff, since SNEWS has learned a number may have already approached Raleigh about jumping ship including Climbing's senior editor Alison Osius and editor Michael Benge.

And just when you thought things couldn't get anymore exciting on the publishing front, brace yourself for the debut of the publication, "The Alpinist." From what we've learned, it's a nod more toward the soul and editorial musings of the defunct Summit or, as we've been told, a "surfer's journal" for climbing. The magazine is being launched by former American Alpine Journal editor Christian Beckwith, backed by funding from Marc Ewing, a software bazillionaire who was a founder of Red Hat, the Linux open software company.

SNEWS View: Holy publishing competition batman! Right now, Climbing Magazine holds the honors as the largest climbing pub in the world with a paid circulation of 50,000. Rock & Ice hopes to add to its current paid circ of 32,000, and it doesn't take too much imagination to speculate that any increase in its circ numbers will come at the expense of Climbing. To tip the scales in his favor, Raleigh has brought in Paula Stepp, who oversaw Climbing's circ growth from 1989 to 1998. Now, add newcomer The Alpinist to the mix and one begins to wonder how much advertising dollar there will be to go around. Climbing has the current rep as king, but with Raleigh and Williams at the helm and with a staff of proven editors as well as Stepp driving the bus, our money is on Rock & Ice to begin turning heads and gobbling up ad dollars either sitting on the fence or not in the game at all yet. Trail Runner is going to be Raleigh's trump card and he knows it. Right now, TR sits at an unaudited 27,000 to 30,000 circulation and there is lots of room to grow. Consider that Runner's World has a paid circ of 600,000 -- it isn't hard to envision a 100-percent increase for TR without much effort. That too will bring in more advertising attention and publishing credibility.


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