On March 25, 2010, nearly two years ago now, I was climbing the north face of Mount Temple when a hold broke and I fell some eighty-feet. Far enough to break my ribs in 20 places and my pelvis twice.
As I lay on the ledge near my partner, Bruce, I quickly got very very cold as my body shunted blood away from my hands and feet and into my core and brain. I felt the agonizing sensation of my own breath getting shorter and shorter as my chest cavity filled with blood due to the numerous fractures.
By this time, Bruce had used our cell phone to call for a rescue, and two hours later I was plucked off the wall by a warden (and coincidentally a friend of mine) on a cable 100 feet below a Parks Canada helicopter.
Two hours is a long time to think. Long enough for the adrenaline to wash away, long enough for it to feel like a very long time. Long enough to weigh your regrets. To tell Bruce all the things you’re thankful for. The names of all the people you Love.
During the ensuing months of convalescence I remembered one particular question that had come to me during my wait: Were there climbs I’d wished I’d done, and hadn’t? As the summer rolled by in a blur of narcotics, wheelchairs, and physical therapy I kept coming up with the same answer to my question: No, it was not more climbing that was missing from my life. Chief on the list was to do more for my community, and from this intention Alpine Mentors was born.
Alpine Mentors is a young venture I’ve started with a group of friends and advisors. Our mission is to: Promote alpinism by encouraging, coaching and climbing with technically proficient young alpinists who aspire to climb the world’s greatest mountains in a lightweight, low-impact style. In form, it is modeled on existing programs found in most European alpine clubs that match young, motivated climbers with seasoned alpinists so they can train, climb, and carry out an expedition together.
Our Alpine Mentors will be structured in two-year cycles. During those two years various mentors (myself and others) will ascend routes in different mountain areas from Colorado to the Canadian Rockies to the Himalaya.
The current application period will close on April 1, 2012. Once the applications are reviewed we will notify the ten best to journey to southwest Colorado for a week of training, a safety review of climbing systems and self-rescue techniques, and of course, climbing. From those ten we’ll select between two and four candidates. (I hope to grow this number in the future.) Those who are selected must be solid climbers, but also must be the sort of folks who we can travel, train, and climb with for months at a time. The culmination of the two years will be a climbing expedition to a 7,000-meter peak planned and executed by the entire team from concept to summit and home again.
I would like to invite you, or your friends, or your friend’s friends who fit the bill: 21-30 years old, technically proficient in rock, ice, mixed, and mountaineering. Young. Strong. Motivated. We are open to men and women from any nation.
This is my way of giving back. Creating something that contributes to a growing communal passion for wild summits, those least attainable points across our globe, places where we learn so much about ourselves, our relationships and our environment. A passion that has given me so much in my lifetime. Please visit our website and help us spread the word: www.alpinementors.org.