A podcast about the lives of mountain climbers. Season Two: The Creative Climber - out now!


  • Trip Report: Infinite Jester

    Trip Report: Infinite Jester

    07/04/2020 Duração: 26min

    Last week I sat down for a remote chat with Valdez, Alaska-based ice climber, Ryan Sims. Ryan is an Engineer with the Valdez Fire Department, but when he’s not putting out fires, both literally and figuratively, he’s part of a new generation of crushers in the ice mecca of Valdez and Thompson Pass, where some of the best ice climbing in North America exists. • But last month, Ryan teamed up with another Alaskan, the seasoned alpine zen-master, Sam Johnson, to do some exploratory first ascents far from Valdez. Supported with grants from Xplore Alaska and Summit Sealants, the team started out in Sam’s hometown of Seward, Alaska - where they made the second ascent of Blood Moon, and the first ascent of Varcolaci - which are both technical 245 meter routes. • From there, the duo flew down to Juneau, where they chartered a helicopter and flew into the Suicide Basin - a remote ice and mixed climbing arena on the Mendenhall Glacier. It was there in February 2012, that Sam, Tim Banfield, and the late Ryan Johnso

  • In It Together

    In It Together

    29/03/2020 Duração: 48min

    A check in with The Firn Line community during the Covid-19 pandemic. These conversations and clips were gathered between March 22-28, 2020. • Stay safe and take care of each other. •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Music by Evan Phillips •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Links: •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Sponsors:

  • Fast Times at Yocum Ridge

    Fast Times at Yocum Ridge

    23/03/2020 Duração: 24min

    The Cascades of North America are a beautiful and diverse range of mountains. These peaks, which range from sharp, granitic towers, to glaciated and crumbly volcanoes, extend all the way from southern British Columbia through Washington and Oregon - all the way to Northern California. • And if you live in the Portland, OR area - there’s one Cascade peak that dominates the horizon - Wy’East or Mount Hood as it’s commonly known. • The mountain, which is a dormant volcano - is a literal playground for outdoor enthusiasts, from skiers, snowboarders, hikers - and of course, mountaineers. • Although Wy’East is climbed thousands of times every year up it’s easier routes, some lines offer a more challenging experience - like the Eliot Glacier, and Sandy Glacier headwalls. But no technical route is more sought after, and perhaps feared, than the Yocum Ridge. First climbed in 1959 by Fred Becky and co., The west-facing serrated, knife-edge ridge - which splits the Reid and Sandy Glaciers, is a route for experien

  • The Lifer: Paul Gagner

    The Lifer: Paul Gagner

    21/12/2019 Duração: 01h22min

    On today’s episode of the firn line, we’ll get to know legendary rock climber and big wall ace, Paul Gagner. Growing up in southern California in the late 60’s and early 70’s - Paul had a keen sense for adventure. This was fueled by summertime camping trips with his family, and a string of visits to National Parks. In fact, it was a fateful trip to Grand Teton National Park in his teens, that would give Paul his first taste for climbing. His appetite for the vertical world whetted, Paul started making trips to Yosemite and climbed his first big wall in 1979. • Since that time, Paul has continued to be a force and consistent presence in the climbing world. A prolific all-arounder, Paul has made impressive ascents all around the globe, from the Haston-Scott on the south face of Denali, to the SE Ridge of Cerro Torre (both done in 1987), to a monumental ascent and survival situation on Baffin Island in 1995, and a more recent ascent of Sea Of Dreams on El Cap in 2015. • I recently had the chance to speak

  • Rockies Wisdom: Barry Blanchard (Part 2)

    Rockies Wisdom: Barry Blanchard (Part 2)

    01/12/2019 Duração: 42min

    On today’s episode of The Firn Line, we’ll dive into the final segment of a two-part series with Canadian Rockies legend, Barry Blanchard. • In the first episode, we heard Barry tell stories of his early years in the Canadian Rockies, as well as some of the formative partnerships he developed during that time. We heard about iconic routes like The Andromeda Strain, The North Pillar of North Twin, and the east face of Mount Fay to name a few. • But there was one mountain - a mountain that is central to my own climbing career - that I wanted to spend a little more time talking with Barry about. And that majestic peak is Mount Robson. • Rising over 10,000 feet from the Fraser River Valley, Robson is the highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies. It’s also one of the most recognizable mountains in North America, if not the world, drawing hundreds of thousands of tourists each year, hoping to catch a glimpse of it’s frosty summit. • But to mountaineers, Robson is much more than a photo opportunity. Rather, i

  • Rockies Wisdom: Barry Blanchard (Part 1)

    Rockies Wisdom: Barry Blanchard (Part 1)

    10/11/2019 Duração: 01h17min

    On today’s episode of The Firn Line, we’ll delve into the first of a two-part series with Canadian Rockies legend, Barry Blanchard. Barry’s name is synonymous with some of the most iconic lines in the Canadian Rockies - and his first ascents on these mythical walls are many: from the Andromeda Strain - to the north pillar of North Twin - to a gutsy climb on Mount Cephran called M-16 - and a visionary line of beauty up mount Robson’s emperor face. But like many alpinists, Barry’s career has been defined just as much by strong partnerships and friendships he’s forged, than by the mountains themselves - and this was especially evident during a recent conversation we had. We talked about everything, from his early experiences in the Rockies, to a string of ascents in the early to mid 80’s with Dave Cheesmond, and much much more. •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Music by Evan Phillips •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Links:

  • Red River Roots: Jason Tyler Burton

    Red River Roots: Jason Tyler Burton

    18/10/2019 Duração: 01h06min

    On today’s episode of The Firn Line, we’ll get to know songwriter, and mountain traveller, Jason Tyler Burton. • Growing up in a working class family on the outskirts of Lexington, KY - Burton was raised hearing the stories of his grandfather, who like many Kentuckians of times past, worked hard to make a living in the nearby coal mines of Harlan County. Although Burton would take a much different career path, one thing he’s carried with him throughout his life, is an appreciation for the history, culture, and simplicity of his Kentucky roots. • This influence can be heard throughout Burton’s new album, aptly titled Kentuckian. Spanning the genres of folk, alt-country and bluegrass, Kentuckian is a musical commentary on the past, present and future of rural life in Kentucky. Americana-UK writes, “Kentuckian is a straight down the middle Americana roots album full of all the delights of the genre. Some stirring playing, acoustic rhythms and rhymes, some keening harmonies, strong blue-collar songwriting al

  • Alpine Progression: Mallorie Estenson

    Alpine Progression: Mallorie Estenson

    03/10/2019 Duração: 43min

    On today’s episode of The Firn line, we’ll get to know Pacific Northwest-based alpinist Mallorie Estenson. Growing up in the shadows of the North Cascades, Mallorie participated in athletics as a kid, with an inclination toward the more adventurous side of life. Eventually, this led to an interest in climbing, and for the last three years, she’s been working as a mountain guide. But Mallorie’s interest in climbing goes much deeper than the guiding life. In fact, it’s not a stretch to call her a straight up “Dirtbag” climber. And in Mallorie’s world - that’s a good thing. • I recently got a chance to talk to Mallorie about her progression as an alpinist, how that led to a recent life-changing experience in the Picket Range, as well as her future professional and personal goals in the mountains. •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• MUSIC •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• LINKS www.patreon.

  • Uphill Athlete: Steve House

    Uphill Athlete: Steve House

    06/09/2019 Duração: 01h05min

    I first heard about Steve House in 1995 - when I was living at my family's cabin on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. I was 20 years old, working as a park rangers assistant. Besides work, there wasn’t much to do that summer, but chop wood, go for mind-numbing afternoon runs, and fish murky waters for salmon. Unfortunately for me, the mountains were hours away. But one thing I looked forward to was my monthly subscription to Climbing Magazine. I cherished each magazine like a prized possession, and poured over each story again and again, dreaming of the far off ranges that captured my imagination. • It was during this time that I read about Steve House’s climb of Denali’s Father and Sons Wall - completed in a light and fast alpine style that was coming more and more into vogue in the U.S. Soon after, I started hearing more about Steve’s adventures in Alaska and beyond - and as the years passed, I watched him transform into one of the most accomplished, and visionary alpinists of our time. • Steve’s life and a

  • Uphill Athlete: Scott Johnston

    Uphill Athlete: Scott Johnston

    30/08/2019 Duração: 49min

    Training for the mountains has come a long way - even from when I started out in the early 90’s. Back then, the mantra was that actual climbing was the best training for climbing. While this is still true in a lot of ways - thinking has progressed - and a lot of that has to do with the emergence of • Founded by Scott Johnston and Steve House, Uphill Athlete has become a name synonymous with all things mountain sports, from trail running, mountaineering - to skimo racing. • In 2014 - the duo published Training For The New Alpinism - a manual to help alpinists translate training theory into practice to achieve any mountaineering goal. Building on the success of that book, the team expanded their horizons, and earlier this year, along with world-renowned mountain athlete Kilian Jornet, they published “Training For the Uphill Athlete: A manual for mountain runners and ski mountaineers.” • I recently got a chance to speak with both Scott Johnston and Steve House, to talk about their respecti

  • New Routes: Kjersti Gedde

    New Routes: Kjersti Gedde

    08/08/2019 Duração: 41min

    Have you ever been on a path, where it seemed like everything was lining up the way it should be - things were going smooth, your life felt perfect - and then one day, seemingly out of the blue, something happened, and everything changed?  What once felt comfortable, suddenly felt unstable. What once felt like solid ground, now felt like falling through space. • As climbers and outdoorsy folks in general,  we pride ourselves on being strong - both physically and mentally.  We’re high achievers that see in mountain faces and blank walls, problems that need to be solved. • But at the end of the day, we’re all human beings.  Not every problem can be solved - and sometimes, what’s most important is being able to look in the mirror and say, today is the day to make some changes. • In some ways, this is what my recent conversation with climber, skier and musician Kjersti Gedde was about.  We talked about her recent decision to walk away from a stable career in the outdoor industry, how mus

  • The Creative Path: Tony Perelli

    The Creative Path: Tony Perelli

    19/07/2019 Duração: 49min

    On today’s episode of The Firn Line, we’ll get to know Alaskan-based wilderness adventurer, woodworker, potter and teacher, Tony Perelli. • Tony grew up in the farm country of Wisconsin, playing sports as a kid, but also developing a passion for the outdoors, fishing and canoeing with his family and grandparents. After college, Tony found himself in Alaska, working as a teacher for the Anchorage School District, and also meeting a group of friends that would introduce him to mountaineering and packrafting. These formative experiences would shape his life, and instill a deeper sense of love and respect, for the wilderness. • Since that time, Tony has continued refining his life, stripping away the excesses, and focusing instead on living simply, working with his hands, and sharing unique life experiences and connections with others. • Last winter, I got to sit down with Tony, to talk about his life in the mountains and wilderness, as well as the creative endeavors he chooses to pursue, and share with others.

  • The Bond: Simon McCartney

    The Bond: Simon McCartney

    27/06/2019 Duração: 01h03min

    On today’s episode of The Firn Line, we’ll get to know alpinist and author, Simon McCartney. Back in the late 70’s - the norms of mountaineering were transforming - moving away from the heavy siege style tactics of the past, to the light and fast “alpine style” path of the future. Although forward-thinking alpinists had been employing these tactics in the mountains for years, only a small group of climbers we’re climbing alpine style in Alaska - and two of these climbers were Jack Roberts and Simon McCartney. • Beginning in 1978, this confident and brash duo made the first (and only) ascent of the exceedingly dangerous north face of Mount Huntington. Then, in 1980 - the team upped the ante when they climbed the enormous 8,000 foot southwest face of Denali. Although the pair readily handled the technical difficulties on the face, it was the insidious onset of cerebral edema that nearly killed Simon high on the peak. Although Simon made it off the mountain after a harrowing descent of the Cassin Ridge - th

  • A Conversation With Caroline Van Hemert

    A Conversation With Caroline Van Hemert

    06/06/2019 Duração: 53min

    On today’s episode of the firn line, we’ll get to know author, biologist and wilderness adventurer, Caroline Van Hemert. Caroline has an impressive life resume: She’s a mother of two boys, holds a Ph.D in wildlife biology (as well as an m.a. In creative writing), and, she just published her first book titled, The Sun Is A Compass. The book, which recently released to critical acclaim, chronicles she and her husband's 4,000 mile, human-powered expedition from the pacific northwest rainforest, all the way to the Arctic Coast of Alaska. I recently got a chance to talk with Caroline about this journey; about the literal, ups and downs over mountain passes and glaciers, the life-lessons she learned along the way, as well as her process of writing about it. •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Music by Evan Phillips:…s-volume-one •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Links:

  • Ruth Gorge Grinder

    Ruth Gorge Grinder

    16/05/2019 Duração: 40min

    In April, 2019, alpinists Alan Rousseau and Jackson Marvell flew into the Ruth Gorge, intent on repeating "Blood From The Stone", arguably one of the most difficult routes in the Alaska Range. But when the duo found poor conditions on the face, they re-directed their efforts, eventually succeeding on a new route between "Blood From The Stone" and "The Wine Bottle". The pair were harassed by a group of ravenous ravens, and endured a pummeling at their second bivy. But the suffering was balanced out by incredible climbing, which followed a series of vertical, razor cut, ice-tubes splitting the granite walls. On the third day, the team topped out on Mount Dickey, establishing ‘Ruth Gorge Grinder’, an instant Alaska Range classic. •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Music by Evan Phillips:…s-volume-one •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Links: •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• S

  • The Mountains In My Life

    The Mountains In My Life

    23/04/2019 Duração: 08min

    With love to the families, friends and community surrounding Jess Roskelley, David Lama and Hansjörg Auer ***********************************

  • Alaska Mountain Women

    Alaska Mountain Women

    21/03/2019 Duração: 48min

    AK Mountain Women is an all-female group that loves human powered expeditions in Alaska. The goal of the group is to cultivate a strong community of local women dedicated to challenging and educating themselves and others about glacial mountaineering and big remote mountains. •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Music by Evan Phillips:…s-volume-one •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Links: •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Sponsors: ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

  • S2:E16 // The Life And Climbs Of Kevin Jorgeson

    S2:E16 // The Life And Climbs Of Kevin Jorgeson

    11/01/2019 Duração: 01h12min

    On today’s episode of The Firn Line, we’ll get to know professional rock climber, Kevin Jorgeson. Over a long and ever-evolving career, Jorgeson has immersed himself in the multi-dimensional craft of rock climbing. As a youth, he honed his mental and physical skills, while progressing to the top tiers of competition climbing. Later, he tested himself on classic and technical and highball bouldering problems, from Fontainebleau to The Buttermilks. And more recently, he teamed up with Tommy Caldwell to complete a visionary free climb of The Dawn Wall - which was documented in a powerful and award-winning film. • I recently got a chance to sit down with Kevin, and talk about the importance of climbing in his life. But we also went below the surface, and talked about his motives, how his experience as a competition climber helped him succeed on the Dawn Wall, and the simple power of optimism. •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Music by Evan Phillips:…s-v

  • S2:E15 // A Conversation With Len Necefer

    S2:E15 // A Conversation With Len Necefer

    27/12/2018 Duração: 50min

    In the final episode of 2018, I go back to a September conversation with climber, educator and activist, Len Necefer. Len holds a Ph.D in Engineering and Public Policy, and is founder of Natives Outdoors, an outdoor products company whose products serve to support indigenous people. • We discuss Len's roots and identity as a Navajo, experiencing racism in college, and his love for climbing and the outdoors (among other things). • •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Music by Evan Phillips:…s-volume-one •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Links: •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Sponsors: •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Cover Photo: Gabriel Ellison-Scowcroft

  • S2:E14 // Wandering Writer: Chris Kalman

    S2:E14 // Wandering Writer: Chris Kalman

    30/11/2018 Duração: 01h07min

    Growing up in the suburbs of northern Virginia, Chris Kalman was exposed to academia and team sports from a young age.  But by the time he reached high school, he discovered rock climbing, and was instantly hooked.  Always a deep thinker, the solitary process of combining fitness with problem solving appealed to him.   • But it wasn’t until Kalman moved out west after college, to work trail crew at Rocky Mountain National Park, that a new world of adventure and self-discovery emerged. • Since that time, Kalman has forged an adventurous, almost Kerouac-style path thru life. This quest has taken him from the technical granite test pieces of Index, WA, to the sweeping big walls of Cochamo in southern Chile.  But Chris’s search isn’t just about climbing. Rather, it’s a pursuit of self-examination, meaningful relationships with others, and a journey toward a deeper understanding of life. •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Music by Evan Phillips:…s-volume-one •••

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