Showing posts from January, 2017

Why We Climb

It was early March 2015. In a month's time I'd be leaving for Tibet to attempt a new route on the north side of Everest . My outings were a blur of runs and weighted hill hikes, with just the occasional long ice or ski day thrown in to keep boredom at bay. When out of the blue a photographer emailed me to ask if I'd be interested in doing a photoshoot for his book project , my initial reaction was to politely decline. With all the training and organizing, not to mention family and work, I had no time to spare for posing. But the photographer's name gave me pause. When I first got serious about climbing in the early nineties, I'd devour every issue of Climbing magazine as soon as it came out. I was living in Chicago at the time, going to graduate school and acutely missing the Rockies. The bright pages of the magazine were an escape from the grey skies and slushy streets of the big city. Perversely, I'd skim over the images of lycra-clad gymnasts on sunny ro

Murdering the Impossible

""Impossible": it doesn't exist anymore." - Reinhold Messner Saddam's Insane As I hooked and stepped up the cauliflowered pedestal at the top of the first pitch, the dagger at the start of the second hung over my head like the sword of Damocles . From lower on the pitch, it had been distant enough that I worried more about blunting my picks on the thinnish ice at the breakover than about the tons of frozen water looming overhead. But now that I stood right below the dagger, and saw that it failed to connect with its base by mere centimetres, I took great care not to bump it. I tried to pound in some pitons for a belay safely off to the side, but the notorious Kananaskis rock, which somehow manages to be both compact and chossy at the same time, wouldn't take even a knifeblade. In the end, I had no choice but to place a couple of screws directly below the dagger, and to call this unsatisfactory arrangement the anchor. I read somewhere you shoul