In this On Belay story from Alpinist 73–which is now available on newsstands and in our online store–Uisdean Hawthorn writes about a new route that he and Ethan Berman climbed on the Emperor Face of Yexyexescen (Mt. Robson), which they named Running in the Shadows (VI AI5 M6 A0, 2000m). Hawthorn writes: “People will say, ‘They timed it perfectly and got perfect conditions.’ But in reality, we’d just stood there bleary-eyed in the dark, had a bit of confidence or perhaps a fear of failure, and we’d gone for it. It was only our curiosity that let us discover if the Emperor would be willing to accept our passage.”
On March 3, Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll and Jon Griffin completed the first ascent of a 350-meter offwidth that splits Fitz Roy’s south face. They topped out at 3:40 a.m. on March 4 and shiver-bivied on the summit for a few hours before heading down. Both suffered frost-nipped toes. They named the crack La Chaltenense (5.11+, 500m) in homage to El Chalten where the Belgian and American have been living for more than a year.
In this Sharp End story from Alpinist 73–which is now available on newsstands and in our online store–Editor-in-Chief Katie Ives writes, “By learning to see beyond one beginning [to histories of mountaineering], we might recall alternative ways to climb and to live.”
The American Alpine Club (AAC) has announced this year’s recipients of the Cutting Edge Grant: Nick Aiello-Popeo, Matthew Cornell, Ryan Driscoll, Sam Hennessey and Vitaliy Musiyenko will attempt objectives in Alaska and Nepal. Black Diamond is sponsoring the grant this year, and a total of $25,000 is being divvied up between the six winners.
A jury panel chaired by Victor Saunders recently announced the recipients of the 2021 Grit and Rock Award, a grant intended to bolster female participation and leadership in exploration and alpine-style ascents. Teams of any nationality that are led by, or composed mostly of women are eligible. This year’s winners include Sara Jaklic and Marija Jeglic; Lise Billon, Fanny Schmutz Tomasi, Maud Vanpoulle and Camille Marot; Nancy Hansen and Ralf Dujmovits; and a general grant to support female members of the Young Alpinist Team and the French National Female Alpine Team (ENAF).
Mountain Standards Gear Review: IFMGA/AMGA Mountain Guide Mike Lewis announces that the Trango Vergo has replaced the Petzl Grigri in his kit, awarding the Trango Vergo five stars. He writes: “Having been a die-hard fan of the…Grigri for more than 20 years, I now proclaim that after less than three months of using the Trango Vergo assisted braking belay and rappel device, I am officially a Vergo convert. A light sadness trickles through my body in making this bold statement.”
On Nov 29, 2020, Lor Sabourin made a no-falls free ascent of the trad-climbing testpiece, Cousin of Death–a five-pitch 5.13+ in northern Arizona (Apache, Hopi, Pueblo and Hohokam territory). Three of the route’s five pitches are 5.13b or harder. Lor’s climb was the first integral ascent of the route.
Interview with Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll about his solo traverse of Patagonia’s Fitz Roy massif (the Moonwalk Traverse)
From February 5 to 10, Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll soloed Patagonia’s Fitz Roy massif. It was only the second time the technical, 5+ kilometer ridgeline has been traversed since Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold pulled it off in 2014, and O’Driscoll climbed it in the opposite direction, south to north. He dubbed his version the Moonwalk Traverse (5.11, 50° snow/ice, 4,000m).
Mountain Standards Gear Review: IFMGA guide Rob Coppolillo has been testing a set of Edelrid Starling Protect Pro Dry 8.2mm Twin/Half ropes in Chamonix for the past several months. The Protect design adds a high degree of cut-resistance to the sheath, though it also adds some dollars and grams to the bottom line. After using the ropes on about 50 pitches of rock and 15 pitches on ice, in addition to some deliberate abuse on some sharp edges, he writes: “I think the Starling 8.2 makes a ton of sense on multipitch alpine rock.” Five stars.
Since the 10-person team of Nepali climbers completed the first winter ascent of K2 (8611m) on January 16, there have been two confirmed deaths and three other climbers have gone missing on the mountain. Atanas Skatov (Bulgaria) and Sergi Mingote (Spain) died from falls while descending from lower camps, on February 5 and January 16, respectively. Meanwhile Juan Pablo Mohr Prieto (Chile), Muhammad Ali Sadpara (Pakistan) and John Snorri Sigurjonsson (Iceland) have been missing since February 5, when they were last seen near the Bottleneck at approximately 8200 meters. They are presumed dead. So far there have been multiple helicopter searches while search teams on foot have been halted by adverse weather.