I have lived all my life in Seattle, and I love the mountains and climate of the Pacific Northwest, despite so many rainy days. I started alpine skiing, Nordic skiing and hiking before my earliest memories, and eventually got my first ice axe for a climb of Mount Hood when I was 11. Although I now go on expeditions around the globe regularly, I still love the climbing in the North Cascades, especially in winter, and I have many projects to attempt when conditions are right... Although I'd love to live in Chamonix, I'll probably stay in the Northwest as long as my mom or dad allow a bit of free floorspace for me!
I choose to spend my life alpine climbing because of the intensity of existence it provides me—something that is generally absent in modern life. All my fondest climbing memories are from the epics—times when we had to fight hard just to get home. I am most inspired by beautiful, difficult peaks that are difficult to climb from any side. The least contrived climbing experience is a struggle to reach the top of a mountain by it's easiest line—something that is rare today, but was the norm during the Golden Age of mountaineering.
I feel that my greatest strengths in climbing are those skills that come from simply spending lots of time in the mountains: route-finding, intelligent strategy, efficient bivying, wise gear choices, etc. I am not an especially strong rock climber by modern standards, but it is a goal of mine to improve my free climbing skills on rock, simply because I think it would benefit my alpine climbing.
Year you first started climbing? I started skiing when I was four years old, started alpine climbing at 11, and starting leading trad rock at 15.
Three climbing achievements you are most proud of?
- The first ascent, with Rolando Garibotti, of the Torres Traverse, a ridge traverse of Cerro Standhardt, Punta Herron, Torre Egger, and Cerro Torre in January 2008. The traverse was a greater accomplishment of Rolo's since he led 75% of the terrain and masterminded the ascent. Nonetheless, this climb was so far ahead of anything else I have done, that I consider even my lesser role on the ascent to be my greatest climbing achievement.
- The first linkup, with Kelly Cordes, of the Marsigny-Parkin and West Face of Cerro Torre, establishing a new route to the summit (VI M5 AI6+ A0), January 2007. Ever since I was 12, there was no mountain in the world I wanted to climb more than Cerro Torre. To complete the dream by a significant new linkup made it all the more surreal.
- The first ascent of The Entropy Wall (VI 5.9 A2 WI4+) on Mount Moffit, in Alaska's Hayes Range, with Jed Brown, July 2006. With difficult climbing on a big, steep wall, in a very remote setting, this wall was the most committing climb I have ever done.
Memory/story of the first time you ever went climbing? When I was eleven I climbed the South Rib of Guye Peak (central Cascades) with my brother, dad, and uncle. Following one pitch, I got up to see my dad belaying me on a "knee belay." We climbed on 8mm static rope (that was actually cord for slinging chocks), used swami belts, and no helmets. I have been getting less sketchy ever since...
Favorite climbing area and why? The Fitz Roy Range, southern Patagonia. The mountains in this range, particularly the Torres, are amazingly beautiful. The routes are up to 1,500m tall, with sustained steep climbing the whole way. The rock is perfect, and the Torres are plastered with the craziest ice formations on any mountains anywhere.
Best climbing experience? There's no way I could choose one "best" climbing experience, but generally my most cherished climbing memories are from the total epics - big storms, huge descents, no food/fuel, complete exhaustion, etc...
Worst climbing experience? Watching my partner get ripped off the rappel ropes by an avalanche on the Aiguille Verte, seeing his motionless body on the glacier 200m below, and wondering if he was still alive.
What's your dream trip? Where? With who? The answer to this question depends on how realistic of a dream we are talking about... How 'bout repeating the Karo-Jeglic route on Bhagirathi III (Indian Himalaya) with one partner, two ropes, and no portaledge?
Guilty pleasure? Sushi, and juice smoothies - guilty only because that shit is expensive. Oh, and I'm a chalk whore.
BD gear you use every time you go climbing? Camalots, stoppers, tracer helmet, chaos/ozone harness, oz 'biners, dyneema slings, express ice screws, cobras, serac crampons
Something that annoys you while climbing? "Annoy" might not be a strong enough word for: slab avalanches, rock fall, serac avalanches, thinly-bridged crevasses, breaking cornices, and did I mention... f-ing avalanches!
What/who inspires you in climbing? So many people and so many amazing ascents... Here's just a few of the many, many climbers I am inspired by: Fritz Weissner, Anderl Heckmair, Herman Buhl, Fred Beckey, Riccardo Cassin, Walter Bonatti, Casimiro Ferrari, Renatto Casarotto, Ermanno Salvaterra, Jerzy Kukuzcka, Wojtek Kurtyka, Janez Jeglič, Silvo Karo, Franček Knez, Erhard Loretan, Jean Troillet, Christophe Profit, Charlie Porter, Jim Bridwell.
Favorite après-climb meal? Sushi!
Favorite climbing flick? "Cumbre" - The movie by Fulvio Mariani about Marco Pedrini's solo ascent of Cerro Torre.
What's in your iPod? 45 gigs of music, from many, many artists, of every genre. I probably listen to metal and electronica more than other genres though.
Strangest place you've ever woken up? The floor of the international airport in Buenos Aires... for the third morning in a row!
Strangest person you've ever woken up with? My first girlfriend.
Three things you'd never roadtrip without? Music, pillow and lots of water bottles.
Superstitions? Definitely not.
What's your dream job? Pretty much this one...
How are you training when you are not climbing? Bouldering is training for sport climbing, which is training for trad climbing, which is training for alpine climbing... I generally just try to go climbing a lot. The only actual training I do is occasionally trail running or nordic skiing, and pulling on plastic at the Seattle Bouldering Project!
If you could steal one thing and not get caught, what would it be? A chalet in Chamonix (but only if the person I'm stealing it from is a real big jerk).
If you could have dinner with three people (dead or alive) who would they be? Genghis Khan, Julius Caesar and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Do you have any tattoos or piercings? I have a bracelet tattooed on my left wrist, and I have a bunch of snowflakes on my right forearm.