The Goings On

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a written update of what’s up in my world. Last week I was at the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City representing Hilleberg The Tent Maker. It was my first Trade show; and certainly an eye opening experience. Networking is not my strongest suit — nor is being around thousands of people. I had the folks from Hilleberg pretty convinced they’d find me inside a display tent holding my knees rocking back n forth muttering some incoherent mantra. That said, I had a great time meeting many interesting people and sharing stories.
The weeks prior to the show I was out in Europe, sampling the climbing in Chamonix (Mt Banc) and Zermatt (the Matterhorn). I was also visiting with my parents who I hadn’t seen since before my Annapurna expedition. Had an enjoyable time climbing the Matterhorn via Hornli Ridge. What a historic mountain, visually stunning from afar but what a total pile of choss!
My summer plans to go to Pakistan to attempt K2 didn’t materialize. Mostly because the team I was buying onto had applied quite late. My understanding is that as an American I needed the climbing permit issued before I could obtain my visa. This was not the case with the other team members. They were able to obtain their Visa and fly to Islamabad and wait for the climbing permit to clear. So the timing of buying a spot on the permit just didn’t work out. As it turns out, though, It was not a terribly great season anyways with no summits on K2 and few anywhere else.
In other news: In late June I decided to part ways with Rainer Mountaineering, our paths were just too far diverged. They’re operation is quite militaristic and what I’m working towards leans more toward to an open form of athletic expression. It was difficult to part company with such a fantastic organization, and close friends I made there. Unfortunately, for the time being it was best to step away. As an insider for the last 4 years on the commercialization of mountaineering, what I saw, at times upset me. Especially in the Himalaya. It feels right to no longer be contributing to the problem. Moving forward I’ll hopefully be a voice putting into question the ethics of taking the “Everest style” of commercial operations to other 8000m peaks. Mountains like Annapurna and K2 for example. These are place where this style of extreme support mountaineering will always end in the fatalities of the support staff.
And for what? Higher ground. A better Insta-shot or profile picture. No amount of compensation can compensate for this needless loss of human lives. No augment of employment of local peoples can justify for this catastrophic impact on High Altitude Porter / local guides families. A developing trend is Seven Summit climbers (climbing the highest peak on each continent — an easy task in “climbing” terms.) moving onto attempting the fourteen 8000m peaks. These climbers require the Everest level of support and assistance (HAPs, plethora of bottled oxygen and fixed lines from BC to the summit) to make any summit achievable for them. These demands will inevitably put their support staff at great risk. To me, this is a disturbing trend.
Anyways,
What’s next for me?
This autumn/winter my plans are to stay stateside with training being my focus. In the Spring and Autumn of 2016 I have two projects I’m working towards. I’ll be taking my 8000m solo / nO’s style in a new direction. By tackling possibly two new routes on Annapurna and Shisha Pangma. I’m excited to finally be taking this style of high altitude climbing to its fullest potential.
–          Alex

4 responses to “The Goings On

  1. Alex,

    Thanks for the post update. No surprise to me regarding your decision. I’m in agreement too. There are some mountains that simply aren’t made for commercialized expeditions. As a 54 year old one eyed man, with a family too, I realize my limitations. Perhaps they are self imposed? So what! If I’m comfortable and satisfied, then it’s all good, right? Take care and keep your objectives in check… stay in touch!

    Tim

  2. Hi Alex.

    Nice to hear from you. Interesting to learn about your experience in the real world of a trade show. Haha. Some of us had to do that sort of thing for a living!

    Sorry to learn about your parting ways with RMI. I hope you can continue to do big climbs and figure out how to pay for your crazy life!

    RMI may not have a business model that you buy into, but what they do for clients who want to experience big mountains is pretty impressive. Maybe not unprepared clients wanting to be short roped up 8,000 meter peaks and think that is climbing when they put so many locals at risk. I get that. I have no interest in even thinking about climbing in the Himalayas. But RMI does good things and they did good things for you, too. I hope you did not burn any bridges.

    I am in Idaho for the month. Doing some rock climbing. Been down at the City of Rocks for a few days and climbing a big multi-pitch 5.7 peak on Thursday – Broken Arrow Arête on Mustang Peak in the Pioneer Range outside Sun Valley. It will be a challenge. Using it to prepare for a climb on the Elephant’s Perch in the Sawtooth Mountains.

    Wendy and I will be trekking for a couple of weeks in Switzerland (the Bernese Oberland and the Valais). We will be in Zermatt for a few days and will hike up to the Hornli Hut on the Matterhorn. I will kind of stare up and think about maybe next summer climbing it. Also, we will spend a few days in Chamonix and, will be checking out whether or not I go back next summer to do some climbing there. So, given your recent trip and climbs in those places, I am curious about your thoughts. Maybe when I get back late September, we might talk on the phone.

    Send me your cell number.

    Anyway, thanks for keeping in touch. Good luck and maybe I will see you in the mountains again some day.

    Regards,

    Jim

    Sent from my iPad Jim Daverman

    >

    • Hey Jim! Certainly agree that RMI and many guide services like them provide a fun and safe experience on local stateside peaks. They also bridge an important gap for people looking to safely lead their own adventures. RMI folks and I have a strong friendship but it was time to totally focus on my upcoming pursuits.

      Alpine rock is an exciting new step and quite addictive, the feeling of the rock with drop of exposure and the goal of a summit. Nothing better! While in Switzerland you should break out time to climb the Matterhorn. I was on Zz Matterhorn in July! Fun time.

      – Alex

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