Showing posts with label Josh Wharton. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Josh Wharton. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Switzerland Trip!

Eiger Summit! After two weeks of working on Jeff Lowe's new film (bit more then the 5 or 6 days I was expecting), I was beginning to think that my chances of soloing the Alps Great North Faces were disappearing. Luckily, just as the film project wrapped up, the weather cooperated. Conditions weren't ideal, but I was able to squeeze in solos of the Eiger and Matterhorn North Faces. Half way up the Matterhorn's Schmid Route.

The Matterhorn. One of the more visually stunning peaks I've seen anywhere! The Schmid route climbs the center of the North Face (shaded aspect in the photo). I had very little snow, and lots of old black ice and choss, on my solo, aka a good adventure!

Although I didn't have time to get over to the Grand Jorasse, the trip was a fantastic success given the circumstances. I had a wonderful time, met some great folks, and fulfilled two alpine climbing dreams! Thanks to everyone at Mammut for helping me make this trip a reality!

As a quick aside, two pieces of Mammut gear that I used in Switzerland that were very impressive were the Glacier Pant and the Shelter Ultimate Glove. Don't know why I hadn't used this Shelter Ultimate Glove much before, but I'm now a complete believer! They're perfect for when you need your fingers free for a bit of rock climbing, but want to quickly switch back to a mitten to keep your hands warm on icy terrain. The Glacier pant, is clean, simple, fits well, and held up to the constant abuse of alpine climbing.

Some more details about my climbs can be found here:

And some clips from the making of Jeff Lowe's Metanoia can be found here:

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Eiger!

A snow storm made things interesting during a recent solo of "The Englishman's Route" in RMNP.

The Eiger North Face. The "1938 Route" follows a series of ramps and snow fields, beginning on the lower right portion of the wall, and ending on the upper left.

Tomorrow I leave for Grindelwald, Switzerland, which sits at the base of the Eiger's North Face. For the first week I will be working on Jeff Lowe's new movie (check it out here: Then I'm hoping for the right mix of weather and conditions to solo the Alps great North Faces--the Eiger, Matterhorn, and Grand Jorasse.

With that in mind, I've been spending my few weeks at home after Patagonia, doing lots of alpine mixed climbing in Rocky Mountain National Park. Getting out for good old fashioned spindrift suffer days with friends, and doing some solos as well. I've had some excellent days, with a highlight being the probable first winter solo of "The Englishman's Route" on Hallet's Peak. My father made the first ascent of this route on a summer road trip in 1958! It was quite an adventure; amazing how a 5.8 summer romp can be a different beast in winter! I used a mix of free soloing and rope soloing, breaking out the rope on two of eight pitches.
I'm incredibly excited for my upcoming adventures! I hope all of you have some great spring projects as well! I'll check back in, and let you know how it all turned out when I'm home in mid-April. Also, keep your eye out for feature articles on "The Wave Effect" (Our new Patagonia link-up that Whit wrote about earlier on this blog.) in upcoming issues of Desnivel and Rock and Ice Magazines. They should appear early this summer. Thanks again to Mammut for all of their support!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Desmochada Adventure!

Of course the weather arrived just as one partner was headed home, and Nate Opp and Whit Magro were still in transit from the States. Fortunately I was able to round up a partner--a young and eager Neil Kauffman--and climb a new route on Desmochada, laying great groundwork for our ultimate project, "The Wave Effect;" The steep, unclimbed enchainment of the south face of Desmochada, Silla, and Fitz Roy, the best link-up left in the range in my opinion.

Check out some photos, and details about out the climb on Neil's blog:

Some good weather is on the way, and we're excited by the possibility!
Hope you're all having a great finish to your winter.
Josh Wharton

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Swiss Trip, Winter's Here, and Rehab Video

In mid-November I spent two weeks in Switzerland. I participated in the premiere of the the new Eiger Extreme Line, gave some slideshows, toured the factory, met with product designers, and even snuck in some bouldering. I also climbed the West Face of the Eiger, to be part of the new add campaign for the Eiger Extreme Line. It was a gorgeous day, and I'm sure the add image will be pretty spectacular! Peep the photo above by Dave Watson.

Back at home in Colorado, winter is finally here, and I've been getting out for some mixed climbing in the local hills. There's some great winter climbing in the Estes area, so it's nice to have lots of new places to explore. It's also pretty cool to be able to sneak down the hill towards Boulder, when the sun is out, and get out rock climbing, something that took a bit more effort during Rifle winters! Top photo of me on Mixed Emotions Direct (M8ish), courtesy Jacob Fuerst. (
Finally, earlier this fall Jacob Fuerst put together a short video about my recovery. (Still working to get back, pun intended, that remaining 1o%, but felling better all the time!) There's some pretty funny footage of the water aerobics class. Hope you enjoy it, and check out Jacob's site. He's a talented photographer, climber, and badass wingsuit basejumper! Link below:
Hope your all having a great start to you winter, and looking forward to the Holidays!

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Onsighting the fantastic slabbyiness of The Afterlife (5.12d.) at the Wizard's Gate. Photo

Left: redpointing the brilliant Cloak and Dagger (5.13c), also at the Wizard's Gate, with n ice views of Estes Park. Photo Jacob Fuerst.
Left: our cat Sky harnessing the eye of the tiger for Rocktober!
Thankfully I've been able to start climbing in earnest the past few weeks, and haven't missed the great conditions October always seems to offer. My back is getting better all the time, and I've been leading and bouldering without too much fear of breaking myself again. I even managed to get up a long 5.12+ in the Black Canyon called Air Guitar, which I been wanting to climb for the last few years, without feeling entirely crippled the next day. It probably helped that we used a Serenity Rope, and that every 'biner on the rack was a Moses, making the overwhelming pile of gear feel light. Off to Switzerland next week for a dealer camp, some product design meetings, and a few days of climbing. I'm very excited, and thankful for the opportunity! Hope you've all been sending whatever "project" life has thrown your way!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Recovery Time!

Erinn enjoying the homemade sushi spread (much better then it sounds) at the "Welcome to Estes Park party." It was great to meet all the nice folks in our new community.
Talking beta with Kelly Cordes. Can't wait to take advantage of all the new climbing in the area. Particularly good bouldering and alpine climbing to be had, and Kelly and Tommy Caldwell to climb and train with!

One week after the accident. Note the walker, cast on the right arm, and gripper for getting things off the floor. Feeling pathetic!

Two months ago I took a serious fall while upgrading bolts in Rifle's Skull Cave. I fell straight onto my tailbone from twenty feet, and suffered a broken arm and fractured L1 and L2 vertebrae. The fracture of the L2 was a fairly serious burst fracture, so there were some scary weeks after the injury, where I worried I might be plagued by my silly mistake for a long time. Fortunately I progressed well, avoided surgery, and the doctors now feel I'll make a 100% recovery!

One of the frustrations during the last two months was trying to get my doctors to understand my injury within the context of climbing. I think it's fair to say that most folks outside the climbing community don't really understand technical climbing. When you say "climbing" people generally envision something like the footage in the Hollywood film "The Vertical Limit," seeing me busted up only confirms their assumptions.

A few days ago I finally spoke with a doctor who "gets it." My friends at Rock and Ice hooked me up with Dr. Julian Saunders, a serious climber and orthopedic surgeon from Australia, who writes the medical advice column in Rock and Ice. Speaking with Julian was the best medical experience of my life. He took his time to answer all my questions, and could put them all in the a climbing specific context.

After speaking with Julian I'm finally completely confident that I'll return to climbing soon, and with some hard work be stronger then ever. Within a month I'll be toproping and in another month back to leading and bouldering. It'll obviously take some time for my back to strengthen, and loosen-up after being locked up in a brace for three months, but Julian told me about a friend with a similar injury who achieved a personal best redpoint only ten months from the time of injury!

So it's time for the hard work of rehab. For the last few weeks I've been doing some light upper body weights, getting in the pool, Pilate's in my brace, and getting out for a two hour hike everyday. My motivation for climbing has never been higher, and I can't wait until I can ditch the brace and get on with some serious training!

I want to thank everyone who's been there for me during this trying experience. My wife Erinn has been there at my lowest times, even when I didn't deserve it. I don't know if I would have made it through this without her. All of my friends who offered their love and support. And of course Dean and Mike have been very supportive, assuring me that they'd stick with me while I try to get back to climbing. Thanks!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Red Rock Rendezvous

The annual Red Rock Rendezvous was a bunch of fun this year. Great weather, good friends, and a beautiful spot make the RRR one the best climbing festivals in the country. This year I taught crack climbing at the Hidden Falls crag. Everybody in my class seemed to have a blast, and we talked about everything from racking, to taping, to the various jamming techniques. It was especially rewarding for me to see people dramatically improve; some were unable to struggle their way to the anchor on their first try, but managed to climb the route cleanly by the end of the day! Thanks to everybody in my clinics for the great effort and good times, I hope you all enjoy your hard won Mammut swag!
The photos from top to bottom: Bill and Miker climb Left Out and Brass Track respectively, the crew on Saturday, showing Ben and Jessica how to tape.

On the way to/from Vegas I was able to do some personal climbing. Highlights include some 5.13 sport onsights (especially psyched to onsight the VRG classic .13a, Joe Six Pack in HOT conditions), and making an early repeat of two new classic "longish" routes at Red Rock--The Velvet Tongue and Jetstream. Both of these routes were amazing, so if you climb .12+ look at Jerry Handren's new Red Rock guide and check them out. It was pretty chilly during these climbs, and I received several comments and longing looks from my partners over my light, yet warm, Broad Peak and Microlayer Windbreaker Jacket combo. Stay toasty while belaying, then stuff them into their own pockets, and clip them to the back of your harness while you climb, perfect. I know...the Microlayer isn't available any more, but Dean tells me that there's a new jacket on the way that utilizes the same ultralight material.

Excited for some great trips for this summer. Hatching plans with Whit for a trip to Mt. Hooker in the Wind Rivers, and Dylan Johnson and I have a Lyman Spitzer and Mugs Stump Grant for an exciting unclimbed peak in China! And of course there's also the constant stream of projects closer to home! Hope you're all having a fantastic and productive spring. Thanks to Dean, Mike, and everybody at Mammut for their continued support!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I could use another dose!

Josh and I on the North Face of Raphael~

It's been two weeks since I got back from Patagonia. It was great to get home and see my son Eli who is now 9 months and getting ready to walk. It's a new feeling for me missing my son while out climbing, I am going to have to start bringing him along.

The short mission I had down there was all I could ever ask for in a alpine climbing trip. From the previous posts Josh and I put up you can see we got some good, high quality climbing in and had a blast doing it. It's great hanging with a good friend on a bunch of huge granite walls.

Though we were not successful on Desomochata it stands out because of the dramatic weather and poor conditions that we had to make work. Josh below in classic Patagonia conditions. The cool thing is that now we have a project for next year. Can't wait!

Josh flew out a day earlier than I did so with my remaing hours and a good forcast I chose an objective that I could climb fast. I hooked up with a good Canadian climber named Jason Kruk. Together we made a speed ascent of Poincenot. We climbed the 2000 foot route in three hours by soloing together with no ropes. I did belay Jason through one 60m section at the top of the ramp.
Poinceniot is the prominent tower left of the large Fitz Roy. The Willians route follows the subtle ice ramp from right to left; then wraps around and up the left sky line. The climbing was supurb and perfect for moving fast.

Of the twelve days I spent down there I had only two rest days. What a lucky roll of the dice, a perfect alpine climbing trip! Now Eli and I have to get training for the spring.

Whit Magro
Bozeman, MT

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Good Life!

After a rough fall and early winter, life has finally taken a turn for the better. I had a great time in Ouray (Check out for details). I cashed in on my comp. training, and polished off three classic Front Range 5.13s on a quickie trip over to Boulder last week. I've got a slew of exciting trip ideas/possibilities for this upcoming summer. And I'm off to Patagonia soon for five weeks of alpine climbing and bouldering. Indeed, life is good! Hope you enjoy the photos below, and that you're all having a great winter. I'll be back in the blogoshphere soon...hopefully with tales of blue skies and great climbs. As always, many thanks to Mammut for their continued support!

Unclimbed gem in Tibet--next summer's trip?

Whit tearing up the "Westie Face (V 5.13a A0)" on Leaning Tower, Yosemite.

Goofing off during an onsight ascent of "Crush The Skull (5.12d)," in Mill Creek.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Pitches with Pros!

Last weekend I finally connected with Paul Nunez, winner of Mammut's "Pitches with Pros" contest. Paul turned out to be a very cool guy. Originally from Columbia, Paul is now getting his Doctorate in Astrophysics from the University of Utah in S.L.C. Despite being such a smart guy, Paul was willing to meet me for an adventure in the Black Canyon. For being such a good sport, I hooked him up with a new Mammut Tripod helmet to insure that he'd be just as smart and the end of the trip as he was at the start. We met at the Black Canyon's North Rim Campground, and had a great two days of climbing, managing the Canyon classics "Comic Relief" (III 5.11-), and "Lost Cities" (IV 5.12-), despite some pesky showers on Sunday. Thanks for great weekend Paul, and I hope to see you back in the Black soon!

Hats off to Mammut for running this raffle contest to benefit Big City Mountaineers--a non-profit organization that gets troubled youth out into the mountains. So often as climbers it's all about chasing our own dreams and aspirations, so it was really nice to help out a worthy cause,. I hope I can be involved with similar fundraisers in the future.

In other news...Whit Magro and I are off to Yosemite for the first two weeks of October. Very excited to get back to the Valley after being away for six years! I recently sent my Independence Pass Project at 5.13+. Turned out to be a very cool route, and I was excited to finish it before the winter snows start falling. And last but not least, Erinn and I finally got married two weeks ago!

Hope you're all enjoying the great temps of fall, and sending all your pesky summer projects!

Best Wishes,

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Latok 1--Round Three!

I've been home for two weeks from my third trip in as many years to the north side of Latok 1. Unfortunately I don't have good news. This year the Karakorum had its biggest snow year since 1976, and snow conditions on the peak were terrible. Colin Haley, Dylan Johnson, and I climbed the right side of the North Face to reach the North Ridge just below 6000 meters. As soon as we hit the ridge we knew that our chances were slim, as there were unconsolidated house-sized snow mushrooms above us. After an interesting night out, with our tent perched on a double corniced ridge, we made a hasty retreat in the morning.

It's disappointing to have given so much time and effort to Latok without getting the proper conditions and weather for a decent attempt, but alpine climbing can be a fickle game. I'm certainly not the first person to be beaten back by Latok, as I know of at least 5 other climbers that have been on three expeditions to the peak. And there have been at least 35 unsuccessful expeditions to Latok in the last 40 years! Obviously it is not an easy mountain. Will I be back? I'm not sure. I wish I could say my obsession had run it's course, but I've never seen another peak that wrapped difficulty and beauty into such a perfect package. I don't think any climbers have been to Latok four times, maybe fourth time's the charm!

Hope you enjoy the photos. From top to bottom they are: Colin leading steep ice on Latok, Dylan and Colin on the lower North Face of Latok, and Latok at sunset during an acclimatization mission. I focused more on video this year, since I'm working on a film project with Chris Alstrin (The creator of Higher Ground and Luxury Liner), but you can also check out some cool photos over on Colin's blog ( I want to thank Dean and Mike for their support on this project. I think it says a lot about Mammut's commitment to real-deal alpinism that they're willing to support a trip that obviously has a small chance of succeeding. Thanks guys!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Spring Fever!

The roof pitch on 827 Go! in the Black Canyon, which is shared with the route Air Guitar that I hope to climb later this week.
Le Sectur Cascade at Ceuse.

Spring is one of my favorite times of year. The days are long, and all of a sudden it feels as if life shifts into high gear. The last six weeks have been very busy, with a trip to France and and lots of training, climbing, and preparation for my upcoming trip to Pakistan.

France was amazing! We only had ten days to climb, and some rain, so we split are days between Ceuse and the Verdon. The rock at both areas made most American sport crags--well at least those in Colorado--look like rubble heaps. My favorite route was L'age De Raison; a seven pitch .12c with stunning climbing on every pitch. I haven't done much sport climbing abroad, but it's hard to imagine anything much better then the south of France. It also was surprisingly easy and affordable to get around, so needless to say if you have the chance I would highly recommend it.

Since I've been home I've been getting down to the Black, climbing out at Rifle, training at home, and running solo laps on a nearby 5 pitch 5.10. Leading up to an alpine trip I like to up my general fitness with circuit workouts, running, and just more activity in general. My rock climbing suffers a bit with less specific training and increased fatigue, but living and climbing at high altitude is hard on your body, so building yourself up a bit for the inevitable "wasting away" is an important piece of the puzzle.

Despite all of training, I've still managed to do a couple .13+ routes in Rifle, and made an onsight second ascent of a .12+ route called Pent-Up in the Black last week. I hope to get down to the Black for one last adventure before I leave.

This year I'm heading to Latok with Colin Haley, and Dylan Johnson. Our hope is that climbing in a team of three will allow us to bring more food and fuel, and climb through the marginal weather that has plagued my previous two trips. Climbing in a team of three can be a bit slower, but often offers major advantages in safety and energy output, so I think that it increases our likelihood of success. We'll likely have the seconds follow simultaneously, with the leader climbing on two Genesis 8.5s. Since it will be relatively warm and wet in the Karakorum during June and July, we'll be taking synthetic bags instead of down. For clothing, I'll probably take a bit more weather protection that I ordinarily might; Stratus Flash, Viento, and Alverstone Jackets coupled with a Hike-T and a Cotopaxi top will likely wind up as my upper body system.

Wanted to send some congrats/props out to some other folks on the team. I was lucky to bump into Will Mayo and Peter Kamitses and Rumney a few weeks back. Always a pleasure to hang with Will, and it was nice to finally meet Pete. He is a phenomenal climber, and it was a great treat to see him climb on the 5.14 China Beach. Also want to send a shout-out to my good buddy Whit Magro. Big Congrats on being a proud new Dad! And finally wanted to give a public thanks to Mike, Dean, and Ian (miss ya' already homie!) for supporting my upcoming trip to Latok! I couldn't do it without your help--sincere thanks! Hope you all have a fun and productive summer!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Pennies For Peace

A few weeks ago I was asked to do a slideshow at a local elementary school on Pakistan. Turns out the school is doing their annual fundraiser for the Central Asia Institute; a non profit run by Greg Mortenson that helps build schools in impoverished areas of northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan. If you haven't read Greg's book Three Cups of Tea it's worth checking out. I've seen several of the schools the CAI has built in Pakistan firsthand, and the profound impact they can have on a isolated rural community is inspiring to say the least.

Although I was very excited to do the show and be involved with a good cause, my slideshows usually aren't particularly G-rated, so it was a great learning experience for me to try to educate and entertain a group of young kids. Pretty photos of big peaks didn't come off nearly as well as the animal shots. A giant water buffalo in the back of a truck was an especially big hit. The local NPR station ran a short piece on the program, which you can listen to here.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Return from Patagonia

I think everyone has things they would like to accomplish in their lifetime, be it writing a book, learning a language, or climbing a particular route. One of my "lifetime goals" is to climb every peak in the Torre group. The Torres are some of the most spectacular peaks I've ever seen, and their steep technical nature combined with Patagonia's notorious weather makes their summits some of the more elusive in the world. In fact, perhaps only a half dozen climbers in the world have stood atop Cerro Standhart, Punta Heron, Torre Egger, and Cerro Torre. In 2005 I nearly climbed Torre Egger, but missed the true summit when my friend Bean Bowers took a 100' fall from the summit snow mushroom. In 2007 I climbed Cerro Torre, but utilized the infamous Maestri bolts on the mountain's final headwall, which for me discredited the ascent.

This year, despite continuously bad weather that kept us from trying our primary objective on the East Face of Cerro Torre, I finally came one step closer to realizing my dream by climbing Cerro Standhart. During a brief window of marginal weather Tommy Caldwell and I repeated "Festerville," which turned out to be a fun route with some quality climbing. We also managed to turn a relatively benign day out into a proper adventure by enduring a 12 hour standing bivy in hopes of continuing onto Punta Heron and Torre Egger the following morning. Unfortunately the weather closed in overnight and we were forced to retreat, but not before getting damn cold and having a few laughs at our own expense.

All in all the trip was great fun. Tommy and I made the most of the trip by bouldering loads, (Look for a short video of us doing a cool boulder problem in El Chalten at soon.), and hiking into the mountains whenever we thought there was a slight chance of decent weather. We're both enthusiastic about more adventures together in the future, and left a cache below the Torre group in anticipation of another trip next season. Hope you enjoy the photos and short video below.

Tommy climbs out of the Bifida/Standhart col during our ascent of "Festerville."
The Torre Group. From left to right; Cerro Torre, Torre Egger, Punta Heron, and Cerro Standhart. "Festerville" climbs the right skyline of Standhart.

Tommy just below the final snow mushroom on Cerro Standhart.

The bivy, before we started to freeze.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Kichatna Spires

Hey All,

Just returned from my trip to Alaska's obscure Kichatna Spires. What an Amazing place! Located approximately 90 miles southwest of Denali, and known for it's gnarly granite spires and challenging weather, the area didn't disappoint. Zack Smith and I spent two weeks on the Cul de Sac glacier, and only had two days of good weather. But luckily we were mostly focused on mixed climbing, so the weather wasn't a major problem. We climbed Kichatna Spire on only our second day on the glacier. Putting up a new route called The Message or The Money. The climb followed a moderate gully, to some steeper snow covered rock and mixed terrain, before joining the original North Ridge route at around 2/3rds height. It had great climbing throughtout, with some of the best mixed climbing I've done in the mountains. We battled through some nasty weather towards the top (Check out the rime that would form on our axes as soon as we'd put the down!), and didn't have much for summit views to say the least. We managed to climb the whole route all free at M6 in 8.5 hours, and had a total blast. The rest of the trip consisted of an attempt on a big rock climb on Sunrise Spire, that was shut down by continuous steep aid that didn't agree with our rack of three pitons. And a couple of attempts on a amazing steep mixed line on the Citadel Formation. We were sniffing the summit on our second attempt, but unfortunately a tool popped and a cam ripped as i was leading a steep roof just above Zack's belay. Zack made for a nice crashpad as I came to a stop, but unfortunately his hand and his back took a bit of a beating from my crampons--sorry about that Zack! Luckily his wounds weren't serious, but they put an end to out trip nonetheless. All in all a grand adventure, and lots of fun. Can't wait to get back to Alaska next year! Hope you're all having a great start to your summers.
josh wharton