SKAGIT ALPINISM

About me

Photo by Mikey Schaefer

I grew up among the moss, ferns, cedars, saltwater and glacial till of the Salish Sea basin – the fjord between Washington State’s Olympic Mountains and Cascade Mountains that was carved out by continental ice sheets during the last major ice age. Although my family always resided in Seattle or its suburbs, the Cascade Mountains were always close at hand, and were always our secondary backyard. I have been hiking, alpine skiing and nordic skiing in the mountains since before I can remember, and a desire to climb the steeper, higher peaks was inevitable I think. I got my first axe for a climb of Mt. Hood when I was eleven years old, and the following summer I was introduced to technical alpine climbing when my father took my brother and me up the classic West Ridge of Forbidden Peak. With a bit of chaotic glacier travel, exposed rock climbing on a spectacular ridge, a tedious descent and off-route rappels in the dark, I learned the core elements of alpinism – exhilaration, exertion, exhaustion, fear, awe and finally relaxation and an elemental satisfaction. From that moment on I have been hooked, and climbing mountains has been the primary focus of my life.

I come from an old-school background, in that all my early climbing experiences were in the mountains, not at the crags. I learned to climb in a swami belt, with hip belays, on 8mm static rope, in boots and with crampons that were much older than myself. Although I did eventually get a pair of rock shoes and learned how to rock climb, the mountains have always been my priority. For many years I would go alpine climbing almost exclusively, and only rock climb on a few weekends of the year when conditions in the mountains were absolutely terrible. This gave me a huge wealth of experience in the mountains by the time I had finished highschool, but I eventually realized was also limiting me. So, in recent years I have learned to embrace rock climbing on its own, and I feel that this in turn is beneficial for my alpine climbing.

My loftiest dreams are big, committing, beautiful and highly-technical. For now I am mostly climbing in the Western Hemisphere, because the mountains of Alaska, Canada and Patagonia are far from climbed-out and are world-class, without the red tape, bureaucracy and fees of the Himalaya, although I’m sure I’ll return there at some point. I feel that every year I am improving as a climber, and I think that every year I become more dedicated and disciplined. This dedication has led me to the great opportunity to climb nearly full-time, which was my dream since fourteen-years-old.

The opportunity to dedicate myself to my dreams is of course thanks to the support of my main sponsors – Patagonia, Petzl, and La Sportiva. Aside from their logos on the top of the page, this website serves no purpose other than to share my climbs and thoughts with whoever is interested. I hope you enjoy it!