Rob R 940 reviewer rep | 783 forum posts
10:36 a.m. on April 25, 2012 (EDT)
yeah...that is crazy!
But I am not in agreement with his oft repeated HEIGHT IS NOT DIFFICULT theory. Heights like Everest produce a difficulty in and of itself that must be factored in and though the technical aspect of much of Everest is not the same as K2, it is no WALK IN THE HILLS to be at 26k plus.
I think what went missing from this piece is a venue such as Foraker can kill folks with its weather. Speed climbing assumes a good weather window; otherwise they would be too burdened with the gear necessary to weather a real storm. The storm he weathered could not have been that bad, thus he was lucky. And anyone who knows about speed climbs will attest seventy two hours is a long stint to endure with just a few powerbars and a couple of liters of water. It is also a long time on Foraker to assume you will have a weather window that permits speed climbing. The danger in this case is more about exposure to the elements than a fall. It is never a good thing when the trip is described as you keep moving or you die. Lucky man.
I'm not into mountaineering, but, I think this illustrates there will be more and more amateur mountaineers undertaking this type of climbing as they see the professionals being successful in it. Also, the increased danger factor, adrenaline rush, is a factor as well.
It's a testament to improvements in aviation equipment and operators. These guys owe a huge thank you to the pilots that can deliver them to their exact or near exact starting point and pick them up when their done. That enables them to closely watch weather while warm and well fed in their heated hotel room or house. So when the time is right they can instantly launch an assault when they are 100% healthy. Without these helicopters and bush pilots I doubt we'd be seeing most of these guys making these climbs. Admittedly, the demand from climbers, skiers, and naturalists to get out into the remote mountains has helped encourage the advances in aviation.
It's a testament to improvements in aviation equipment.. ..That enables them to closely watch weather while warm and well fed in their heated hotel room or house. So when the time is right they can instantly launch an assault when they are 100% healthy...
Nevertheless having personally made a handful of climbs in the region (Denali NP) proximal to Mt Foraker, I can attest dangerous weather can and does spring up almost instantaneously. Weather is the #1 reason climbers fail to summit peaks in that part of the world. Sure one can wait for a "good window" in the weather before setting out, but once under way you are fully exposed to the vagaries of sporadic weather. Sometimes those radio calls warning of an impending storm are not sufficient advance warning to get off the mountain. Many climbing routes, as the tube heading this thread indicates, are committed routes - once you are beyond a certain point, turnaround is not an option, the way out is up. Often speed climb routes follow lines where sheltering in place is impossible. Speed climbing in these venues is as much about fate as it is skill. Hence dedicated speed climbing enthusiasts that make a habit of climbing these types of venues will eventually meet their demise if they do this long enough.