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Conquistadors of the Useless

Conquistadors of the Useless: From the Alps to Annapurna.Terray, LionelMountaineers Books2001Frenchman Lionel Terray is one of mountaineering history's greatest alpinists, and his autobiography, Conquistadors of the Useless, stands among the "100 Greatest Adventure Books of All Time", according to National Geographic Adventuremagazine. Following World War II, when France desperately needed successes to heal its wounds, Terray emerged as a national hero, conquering summits atop the planet's highest mountains.This biography of Lionel Terry is filled with first-time feats and acts of bravery in the face of unspeakable odds. He climbed with legends such as Maurice Herzog, Gaston Rebuffat, and Louis Lachenal. He made first ascents in the Alps, Alaska, the Andes, and the Himalaya. Terray's gripping story captures the energy of an optimistic world shaking off the restraints of war and austerity. It's a mountaineering classic.97808988677879780898867787Conquistadors of the UselessBiographyen by Lionel Terray seems to have gotten extremely positive reviews. Being listed as one of National Geographic Adventure 's 100 Greatest Adventure Books of All Time is probably already good enough reason to read it. However, perhaps the most glowing review was that made by Explore magazine : "If my library was to somehow catch fire and I could only save one book, the long out of print Conquistadors of the Useless, by Lionel Terray, would be it."

Terray is probably best known for his role in the first ascent of French routeAnnapurna I8091mNorth face in 1950 (he did not summit) and in the first ascent of French routeMakalu8463mNW side. However, his routes on somewhat lower peaks, particularly SE faceFitzroy3440mSouth sideED-; 50-60°, VI+,A2/VII+300m/6 pitches of ice + 650m/14 pitches of rock, SE ridgeJannu7711mSouth side and Arista NEChacraraju Este6001mEast sideED2800m, 1 day may be even more important as they represented the absolute cutting edge of difficulty climbed at altitude at the time.

Bold Beyond Belief

Source: . Credit: Fishbond .
Source: Fishpond. Credit: Fishbond .

Article about the book Bold Beyond Belief: Bill Denz, New Zealand's Mountain Warrior, 2nd edition.Maxim, Paul2012Twenty eight years after the original hard man of New Zealand climbing was killed in the Himalaya, the story of this legendary mountaineer has been recorded in a book.The New Zealand Alpine Club is proud to support this biography of Bill Denz. Running to nearly 300 pages, with over 100 images and a Foreward from Greg Child, Bold Beyond Belief is the story about a kiwi climber whose attitude, passion, drive and vision is unique in the 150 year history of New Zealand Mountaineering.97804732331989780473233198Bold Beyond BeliefBiographyen caught my eye in AAJ 2012. Bill Denz was a New Zealander who put up large number of groundbreaking ascents. Many of his routes in New Zealand Alps are considered to have been decades ahead of his time.

Denz is best known for his very bold solos of routes at the very pinnacle of difficulty at the time. Routes like DenzMount Cook3754mCarolina FaceNZ5-/TD; 60-652000m and SW Buttress & West FaceKusum Kanguru6369mMain summit, SW side are still today considered very serious propositions. Aside of being very bold, he was also very persistent, a fact that is highlighted by his 10+ attempts to solo Compressor RouteCerro Torre3127mEast faceED-/ED1/nccs VI 5.10b,A2 70°; 6a,A2-3/5.10,A-2/VI,A2-3, 80°900m (27 roped pitches). Like too many others, he was killed by avalanche when attempting West pillarMakalu8463mSouth side in 1983.

The Bond

At the end of the 70's duo Simon McCartney and Jack Roberts put up two extremely difficult and serious climbs in Alaska: Timeless faceMount Huntington3731mNorth facenccs VI 5.9 WI5 and SW faceDenali6190.5mSW faceAK6; 5.9,A38,000'/4000m from base camp. The latter climb proved nearly fatal for Simon. His book The Bond: Two Epic Climbs in Alaska and a Lifetime's Connection Between Climbers.Mccartney, Simon & Westman, MarkVertebrate Publishing2016'Man, the only - only - good thing about that climb was that you were tied on to the other end of the rope.' Simon McCartney was a cocky young British alpinist climbing many of the hardest routes in the Alps during the late seventies, but it was a chance meeting in Chamonix in 1977 with Californian 'Stonemaster' Jack Roberts that would dramatically change both their lives - and almost end Simon's. Inspired by a Bradford Washburn photograph published in Mountain magazine, their first objective was the 5,500-foot north face of Mount Huntington, one of the most dangerous walls in the Alaska Range. The result was a route so hard and serious that for decades nobody believed they had climbed it - it is still unrepeated to this day. Then, raising the bar even higher, they made the first ascent of the south-west face of Denali, a climb that would prove almost fatal for Simon, and one which would break the bond between him and climbing, separating the two young climbers for over three decades. But the bond between Simon and Jack couldn't remain dormant forever. A lifetime later, a chance reconnection with Jack gave Simon the chance to bury the ghosts of what happened high on Denali, when he had faced almost certain death. The Bond is Simon McCartney's story of these legendary climbs.97819102406639781910240663The Bondguidebooken tells the story about these groundbreaking ascents.

High and Hallowed

Source: . Credit: XTreme Video .
Source: Vimeo. Credit: XTreme Video .

High and Hallowed: Everest 1963 tells the story of 1963 American Everest expedition. Despite James Whittaker becoming the first American to summit Everest earlier during the same expedition, the main feat of the expedition was the first ascent of Hornbein routeMount Everest8848mNW side50°, IV by Tom Hornbein and Willi Unsoeld.

Their route was the most difficult on Everest at the time is is widely c0onsidered to have been landmark in the history of mountaineering. The dramatic events of the expedition are also covered by the books and .

The Fitzroy Traverse

The route follows the iconic skyline from right to left over all main peaks. Source: . Credit: austinsiadak.com .
The route follows the iconic skyline from right to left over all main peaks. Source: austinsiadak.com. Credit: austinsiadak.com .

I have briefly mentioned the 2014 first ascent of Fitzroy traverseFitzroy3440mNorth pillar7a,C1, 65°3600m by Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell (Big routes going down, part deux). Now there is a movie A Line Across the Sky about the ascent. It is included in Reel Rock 10 .

Fitzroy traverse is very alpine undertaking. Something which perhaps is somewhat out of the norm for both of the protagonists who are world class rock climbers not particularly known for their alpine exploits. That said both have extensive experience of scaling large rock faces rapidly. To pull the Fitz traverse off within limited weather windows of Patagonia, speed is obviously of prime importance. Something that the first ascentionists are very familiar with having both held The Nose speed record and climbed many Yosemite big walls in a day.

Citadel

Source: . Credit: Posing Productions .
Source: Vimeo. Credit: Posing Productions .

New film by Alastair Lee is Citadel is out. The film is the first real climbing film shot in 4K (not counting amateur filmings with GoPro hero and the like which are also 4K). The flick features Matt Helliker and Jon Bracey, the same team that features in previous film Moonflower .

As in "Moonflower" the guys find themselves again in Alaska but whereas the previous time they were climbing variation to classic MoonflowerMount Hunter4442mNorth sideAK6; VI AI6 M6, 5.9,A32100m, 7-10 days on route this time they visit very little known Neacola Mountains of Aleutian Range. Their target was Northwest ridgeCitadel2597m. Unlike what is normally the case, climbers did not report the details about the climb to keep audience in suspense.

The Other Face of K2

Source: . Credit: http://banskofilmfest.com .
Source: Bansko Filmfest. Credit: http://banskofilmfest.com .

While The Summit or K2: Siren of the Himalayas probably are far better known and get a bigger audience, The Other Face of K2 might actually be the most interesting film. It follows a Catalan attempt on Magic LineK28611mSouth sideRus 6B; IV-V, 60°3500m. Jordi Corominas reached the highly coveted second ascent of the route.

"Magic Line" follows the SW ridge and is one of the most mythical routes of the climbing world. The name was given by Reinhold Messner who was planning to attempt it in 1979, but discarded the route. It was climbed in 1986 by a Polish team of Peter Bozek, Przemyslaw Piasecki & Wojiech Wroz in 1986. The climb is comparable in reputation to other legends like Shark's FinMeru Central6310mNorth East Pillar6a,A4, WI5,M61400m or yet to be climbed North ridgeLatok I7151mNorth face or NE faceMasherbrum7821mNorth side. There has been only two summits (until 2015), neither without fatalities.

Corominas may not be as famous as some, but he has been nominated for Piolet d'Or (at least) twice and his palmares is extremely impressive:

Siren of the Himalayas

Source: . Credit: http://K2siren.com .
Source: Official movie page. Credit: http://K2siren.com .

Despite The Summit about 2008 K2 disaster likely gathers far more viewers, K2: Siren of the Himalayas might be more interesting to climbers. It centers around 2009 campaign to climb K2 with Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, Fabrizio Zangrilli, Jake Meyer and Chris Szymiec at the main focus. The attempt was done on Cesen RouteK28611mSouth sideIII-IV, 75°.

Compared to siege-style 2008 campaign, 2009 campaign was significantly smaller in scale is regards to number of climbers as well as lighter in style with neither high-altitude sherpas nor bottled oxygen. The film has won several prizes and most of the reviews are very positive.

Water repellent ropes

Source: . Credit: UIAA .
Source: UIAA. Credit: UIAA .

For years manufacturers have marketed dry-treated ropes. However, everyone and their brother knows that not all dry-treatments have been equally effective. Yet personal experience aside, there has been no way of knowing how effective various treatments are. That ends now, as UIAA has introduced new water repellent certification.

The test seems to mimick real life surprisingly well. A rope sample is subjected to subject to light abrasion over its entire surface to simulate few days’ use. The rope is then soaked for 15 minutes following a precise procedure. To pass the test at a certified laboratory, the amount of absorbed water must not be greater than 5% of the rope’s weight. For comparison, a non-treated rope absorbs around 50% of water in this test, and many ropes labeled as "dry" can absorb between 20% and 40% of water. Ropes with surface treatment only cannot pass the says according to Beal.

So far only Beal, Edelweiss and Mammut offer certified ropes that I know of. The certification is very new though, so it is entirely possible that some other brands could have equally good treatments but their ropes are yet to be certified.

Everest 2015

Source: . Credit: http://www.impawards.com/ .
Source: IMP Awards. Credit: http://www.impawards.com/ .

I have been wondering whatever happened to Stephen Daldry 's film project about 1996 Everest disaster. It was widely reported in media some years ago but then seemed to drop from the face of the earth, until at some point there were rumours about David Fincher directing it. Then about nothing, so at least I thought that it had become abandonware.

Not so, as apparently the film Everest will infact see the light of the day, albeit not with either Daldry or Fincher helming it. The director Baltasar Kormákur may not be that well known, but the cast consists of the A-listers Keira Knightley and Jake Gyllenhaal so the producing studio Working Title seems to be serious with this one (Budget is reported to be $65 million). Which is not something you could say about much earlier tv film about the same event based on Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Everest Disaster.Krakauer, JonImport1997Into Thin Air is a riveting first-hand account of a catastrophic expedition up Mount Everest. In March 1996, Outside magazine sent veteran journalist and seasoned climber Jon Krakauer on an expedition led by celebrated Everest guide Rob Hall. Despite the expertise of Hall and the other leaders, by the end of summit day eight people were dead. Krakauer's book is at once the story of the ill-fated adventure and an analysis of the factors leading up to its tragic end. Written within months of the events it chronicles, Into Thin Air clearly evokes the majestic Everest landscape. As the journey up the mountain progresses, Krakauer puts it in context by recalling the triumphs and perils of other Everest trips throughout history. The author's own anguish over what happened on the mountain is palpable as he leads readers to ponder timeless questions.03854920810385492081Into Thin AirNon-fictionen. Working Title is best known for romantic comedies like Notting Hill so it's definitely interesting to see what they can make with the subject matter worlds apart.

As the movie is said to be based on Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Everest Disaster.Krakauer, JonImport1997Into Thin Air is a riveting first-hand account of a catastrophic expedition up Mount Everest. In March 1996, Outside magazine sent veteran journalist and seasoned climber Jon Krakauer on an expedition led by celebrated Everest guide Rob Hall. Despite the expertise of Hall and the other leaders, by the end of summit day eight people were dead. Krakauer's book is at once the story of the ill-fated adventure and an analysis of the factors leading up to its tragic end. Written within months of the events it chronicles, Into Thin Air clearly evokes the majestic Everest landscape. As the journey up the mountain progresses, Krakauer puts it in context by recalling the triumphs and perils of other Everest trips throughout history. The author's own anguish over what happened on the mountain is palpable as he leads readers to ponder timeless questions.03854920810385492081Into Thin AirNon-fictionen it will be interesting to see what they make out of the debacle that followed the tragic incident. Namely Jon Krakauer questioned a lot of actions of Anatoli Boukreev, who was the head climbing guide of Scott Fischer 's team. Accusing him of recklessness and abandoning his clients, even being the cause of some of the deaths. Later some of the 'facts' presented by Krakauer have revealed to have been liberal with the truth. Boukreev's point is backed of by the fact that a grand total of none of his clients lost their life. Krakauer's view is strongly opposed by many climbers, such as Galen Roswell, Simone Moro and Lene Gammelgård (the latter was part of the climb) as well as American Alpine Club. The latter honored Anatoli Boukreev with its highest award. The very prestigious David A. Sawles award, conferred only nine times in the previous 16 years, is given only to climbers who have "distinguished themselves, with unselfish devotion at personal risk or at sacrifice of a major objective, in going to the assistance of fellow climbers." If the movie's position is anything like to Into Thin Air's, I highly recommend reading also The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest.Boukreev, Anatoli & Dewalt, G.WestonPan Books2002The Climb is Russian mountaineer Anatoli Boukreev's account of the harrowing May 1996 Mount Everest attempt, a tragedy that resulted in the deaths of eight people. The book is also Boukreev's rebuttal to accusations from fellow climber and author Jon Krakauer, who, in his bestselling memoir, Into Thin Air, suggests that Boukreev forfeited the safety of his clients to achieve his own climbing goals. Investigative writer and Climb coauthor G. Weston DeWalt uses taped statements from the surviving climbers and translated interviews from Boukreev to piece together the events and prove to the reader that Boukreev's role was heroic, not opportunistic. Boukreev refers to the actions of expedition leader Scott Fischer throughout the ascent, implying that factors other than the fierce snowstorm may have caused this disaster. This new account sparks debate among both mountaineers and those who have followed the story through the media and Krakauer's book. Readers can decide for themselves whether Boukreev presents a laudable defense or merely assuages his own bruised ego.03004889610300488961The ClimbNon-fictionen.

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