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Monthly Archives: January 2021

The Infinite Spur Next Up for Teton Climbers’ Coalition’s Winter Speaker Series

In 1977, George Lowe and Michael Kennedy made the first ascent of one of the great lines in world mountaineering, Alaska’s Infinite Spur, in an eleven-day odyssey that stretched the boundaries of alpine climbing possibility.

Forty-two years later, second-generation Teton climbing guide Michael Gardner and partner Sam Hennessy climbed the route in a 48-hour push in ski boots while carrying skis, then skied the mountain’s Sultana Ridge to descend. 

The differences and similarities between their ascents will be on display on February 18, when Lowe, Kennedy and Gardner explore the connections forged by the line as part of The Teton Climbers’ Coalition Winter Speaker Series.

The virtual event will begin at 7 p.m. Registration, which is free with a $5 suggested donation, may be made here.

For climbers, the Alaska Range holds many classic lines, but perhaps none as striking or mythical as the Infinite Spur (Grade 6 5.9 M5 AI4) on 17,400-foot Mt. Foraker. 

“This aesthetic arête soars nearly nine thousand feet directly up the south face of the second highest mountain in the range, providing a uniquely safe passage up a wall of total chaos,” notes the climbing forum Supertopo. “This route has been a distinguishing highlight in the lives of each alpinist that has completed it.”

Lowe, a PhD, is a legend among American alpinists, famous for first ascents such as the Kangshung (East) Face of Mount Everest, the North Face of Mount Alberta and the North Face of North Twin Peak in the Canadian Rockies. In the mid-1960s, he made first winter ascents of the Tetons’ Mount Owen and the Grand Teton’s North and West faces. Still avid at 76, Lowe made a one-day ascent of the Grand’s Upper Exum with his daughter in 2019, a week before his 75th birthday.

Kennedy, who ran Climbing Magazine for 26 years, is another alpine climbing luminary, with first ascents of the Northeast Face of Ama Dablam, the Wall of Shadows on Mt. Hunter and the Lowe-Kennedy route on the north face of Mt. Hunter to his credit. In 1978, he and Lowe made an infamous attempt on the North Ridge of Latok I in Pakistan’s Karakoram Range with Jim Donini and Jeff Lowe, turning back 100 meters from the summit—a high point that would stand for forty years. 

For Lowe and Kennedy, the first ascent of the Infinite Spur pushed them to a near-transcendental state, an experience Kennedy chronicled in the latest issue of Alpinist Magazine.

A professional skier on the World Tour circuit for five years, Michael Gardner’s climbing resume includes 12 guided ascents of Denali, six guided ascents of Antarctica’s Vinson Massif, more than 150 ascents of the Grand Teton, and a 36-hour single-push second ascent of Denali’s Light Traveler (VI M7 WI6, 3000m).

The series, which is being sponsored by the Hatchet Resort, Teton Mountaineering, Skinny Skis, Black Diamond, Access Fund and The American Alpine Club, in collaboration with Coombs Outdoors and the Jackson Hole High School Mountaineering Club, will be streamed via Zoom. A 45-minute “happy hour” before the main presentation will provide participants an opportunity to socialize, and to learn more about the TCC’s work on the Rec Center expansion climbing gym. 

The first virtual event, featuring world-renowned alpinist Carlos Carsolio, took place on January 21. Lowe, who was among the audience, called it “the most insightful lecture on mountaineering that I have ever attended.”

A third event is currently under development.

Mexican Alpinist Carlos Carsolio to Kick Off TCC’s Winter Speaker Series

The TCC is excited to announce our first ever winter speaker series. The series is designed to provide the Teton climbing community a chance to “gather” in the midst of the pandemic.

Carlos Carsolio

Three virtual events are being planned. The first, scheduled for Thursday, January 21, at 7 p.m., features world-renowned Mexican alpinist and motivational speaker Carlos Carsolio, the fourth person, and first North American, to climb the world’s fourteen 8000-meter peaks. 

Registration for the Carlos Carsolio event may be made here.

The second, on Thursday, February 18, will feature Michael Gardner, a second-generation Teton mountain guide who has put up new climbing routes and first ski descents all over the world. 

A third event is currently under development.

The series, which is being sponsored by the Hatchet Resort, Teton Mountaineering, Skinny Skis, Black Diamond, Access Fund, The American Alpine Club, in collaboration with Coombs Outdoors and the Jackson Hole High School Mountaineering Club, will be streamed via Zoom.

A 45-minute “happy hour” before each speaker will provide participants an opportunity to socialize, and to learn more about the TCC’s work on Latino engagement, stewardship projects, the Rec Center expansion climbing gym and more. 

The choice of speakers for the series, Carsolio in particular, was intentional. Though he is best known for his Himalayan climbing, Carsolio also made ascents of testpiece objectives such as Yosemite’s El Capitan and Patagonia’s Cerro Torre as well as four routes, one of which was new, on the big walls of Baffin Island.

“Carlos’ ascents, made in alpine style, without fixed ropes or supplemental oxygen, often solo and via new routes, place him among the greatest alpinists of all time,” said TCC board chair Christian Beckwith. “One of the TCC’s objectives is to create pathways into the cultural narrative of Teton climbing for our Latino community members. Carlos’ story as a Mexican climber who rose to the heights of world alpinism will serve as an inspiration for our entire community, Latino and Caucasian alike.”

Each event is free and open to the public. A $5 donation is suggested. Links to the events will be sent to registrants one to two days before each event.