Jason Nark's moving and emotive story for Alpinist is about two quests: a journey through Nark's grief at his friend Anthony's September 2013 suicide, and the years-long search for Matthew Greene, who went missing while climbing in the Mammoth Lakes area of California's Eastern Sierra in July 2013. As Nark writes, Anthony and Matthew "didn't have any connection or much in common. People often pointed out that discrepancy over the years as proof I'd gotten lost in this story." It's a story that occupied Nark's mind and drove his decisions for years: the friend he felt like he failed to save; the man whose remains family, friends, and strangers have spent years looking for, an effort stymied by the fact that Matthew's particular destination was unknown.
The arc of Nark's own story takes us from his own joint suicide attempt with Anthony in their high school years, the intervention of sorts that he staged for Anthony two years prior to his death, and the grief that overwhelmed him. "Instead of going to grief counseling, I focused on stories full of heartache," the journalist writes. That included writing letters and leaving voicemails for Matthew's parents asking if he could join them on their trip to California to search for his remains. He later apologized to them for "trying to hitch my grief to theirs." But he did join a search: He remarried and delayed a honeymoon so he could join Peter "Maverick" Agoston and members of his California climbing and outdoors forum as they departed on a fourth search for Matthew. (The full story is worth a read; if you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or know someone who is, call or text the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline 24/7 at 988.)