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.
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.