Episode 15 // Denali Dreams: Vern Tejas

When I was a kid growing up in Alaska, Vern Tejas was one of my heroes. Back in February of 1988, Tejas made the bold first solo winter ascent of Denali, and in doing so, captured the imagination of all Alaskans, including me.

The Denali climb changed Vern’s life. He wrote books, gave lectures and eventually became one of the most sought after high altitude guides in the world. But Alaska never remained far from Vern’s heart, and he returned each year to guide on The High One. To this date, Tejas has summited the mountain a staggering 57 times. A world record.

I recently had the privilege to sit down with Vern, and talk about his life in and out of the mountains. From his first adventurous forays of hitchhiking around the country, to his 1st winter ascent of the Lowe-Kennedy route on Mount Hunter, Vern is a larger-than-life figure and a great storyteller.


Music

• Space Song / Evan & Molly / Evan & Molly (2012)
• Augusta / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
• The Cave / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
• Denali Dreams / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
• Lost In The Night / Evan Phillips / Silhouettes (2015)
• After School Special / Evan Phillips / Silhouettes (2015)
• The Cave / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
• Unnamed Jam / Evan Phillips & Vern Tejas / Unreleased (2017)


Links

Patreon
Evan Phillips
Vern Tejas

Episode 14 // Short Ropes: Ashley Saupe

A few weeks ago I got to sit down with outdoor educator and host of the excellent ‘Sharp End’ podcast, Ashley Saupe. We talked about her upbringing in Alaska, her experiences teaching as an Outward Bound instructor as well as discussing what it takes to produce a monthly podcast about accidents in North American climbing.


Music

• Space Song // Evan & Molly // ‘Evan & Molly’ (2012)
• Augusta // Evan Phillips // unreleased (2017)
• Sharp End // Evan Phillips // unreleased (2017)
• Traveller // Evan Phillips (written by Leeroy Stagger) // ‘Lonely Mountain’ (2017)


Links

Patreon
Evan Phillips
The Sharp End Podcast

 

 

Episode 13 // Mindful Mountaineer: Sam Johnson

On today’s episode, we’ll get to know Alaskan alpinist Sam Johnson.  Growing up in the foothills of the Chugach Mountains, Sam was exposed to the outdoors and mountain environments at a young age.  But it wasn’t until his teenage years that he discovered a newfound focus and direction thru climbing.

Since that time, Johnson has climbed extensively Alaska, Canada, Europe and even the far reaches of the Karakoram.  His quiet first ascents in Alaska’s Hayes Range, including a bold solo on the South East Face of Mount Hayes in 2013, highlight the spirit of adventure and self discovery that Sam seeks in climbing, and in life.

I recently sat down with Sam to talk about his trajectory as an alpinist, as well as the things that inspire him on a day to day basis.


Music

• Space Song / Evan & Molly / Evan & Molly (2012)
• Augusta / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
• Instrumental #1 / Evan Phillips / Songs From Lake Irene (2007)
• Hwy 395 / Easton Stagger Phillips / One For The Ditch (2008)
• Hell Of A Life / Easton Stagger Phillips / One For The Ditch (2008)
• Red Bandana / Easton Stagger Phillips / One For The Ditch (2008)
• Weight Of Changing Everything / Easton Stagger Phillips / Overseas (2014)
• Block Me Out / Easton Stagger Phillips / Overseas (2014)


Links

Patreon
Evan Phillips
Sam Johnson

 

Episode 12 // Short Ropes: Tobin’s Tales

On this episode of Short Ropes, we revisit my conversation with legendary Alaskan alpinist Carl Tobin (See episode 11).  Tobin’s climbs in Alaska’s remote Hayes Range raised the bar for hard alpine climbing in North America in the late 70’s and early 80’s. His climb up the Valdez test piece “Wowie Zowie” is an honest grade 6 ice climb, and was way ahead of it’s time when he made the first ascent in 1981 with the late Andy Embick. In this episode, Carl and I talk about the early days in Fairbanks, his relationship with the enigmatic alpinist Johnny Waterman as well as surviving a deadly avalanche in the Hayes Range in 1984.


Music

Space Song / Evan & Molly / Evan & Molly (2012)
Augusta / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
Fairbanks 75′ / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
Waterman / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
Avalanche / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
Ode To Easton / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)


Links

Patreon
Evan Phillips

Episode 11 // Mountain Memories: Carl Tobin

On today’s episode, we’ll get to know legendary Alaskan alpinist Carl Tobin. With an alpine career that has spanned over 40 years, Tobin continues to be a force in Alaska’s climbing community to this day.

In the late 70’s and early 80’s, Tobin and a small group of committed partners, pioneered a number of first ascents in Alaska’s Hayes Range including the east face of Hess Mountain, the northeast face of peak 10,910′ and the historic east ridge of Mount Deborah. These climbs set the standard for hard alpine climbing in Alaska, and in doing so, inspired generations of climbers that would follow.

This last spring, I sat down with Carl at his home in Anchorage, to talk about his early days in Fairbanks, and the whirlwind years in the mountains that followed. Carl seemed wistful that day, as he recounted his years spent climbing in Alaska, the Canadian Rockies and the Himalaya. But it wasn’t just the climbing that had him thinking. It was also the important relationships he’d forged along the way.


Music

Space Song / Evan & Molly / Evan & Molly (2012)
Augusta / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
Ode To Easton / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)


Links

Patreon
Evan Phillips

Episode 10 // Short Ropes: Mixed Master Vol. 1

I first came up with the idea to do The Firn Line in September 2016 – really not that long ago when you think about it.  I think the truth is that i’d always wanted to somehow combine my love for the mountains with my creative pursuits.  I just wasn’t sure how to do it.  I guess you could say I had a light bulb moment when I realized that I could combine my passion for storytelling, the mountains, and music all into one creative outlet.  Nine months and ten episodes in, I guess you could say I haven’t looked back.


My goal from the get-go was to create a podcast that I would have wanted to listen to back when climbing was the only thing that mattered to me.  I’ve thought back to all the endless nights sitting around campfires with friends, all the soggy drives to go ice climbing in Valdez, and all the storm days I whittled away in tents, counting the squares in the ripstop fabric.  Back then, I would have loved to have had a podcast like the firn line to listen to.

So as I look back today at the beginning stages of this podcast, or rather, this community, I wanted to share “mixtape” from The Firn Line episodes.  Some of these moments are light-hearted, while others are pretty heavy.  But like every Firn Line episode you hear, all the clips are genuine, in the moment, and real.


Music

• Space Song / Evan & Molly / Evan & Molly (2012)
• Augusta / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
• The Fox / Evan Phillips / Silhouettes (2015)
• Silhouettes (w/ Courtney Marie Andrews) / Evan Phillips / Silhouettes (2015)
• Lonely Mountain (w/ Courtney Marie Andrews) / Evan Phillips / Silhouettes (2015)
• Unnamed / A. Tholberg / Unreleased (2016)
• Kenny Blackwell / Grand Couloir / Unreleased (2017)
• The Talkeetnas / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
• Falling Down / Evan Phillips / Silhouettes (2015)
• The Search / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
• Block Me Out / Easton Stagger Phillips / Overseas (2008)


Links

Patreon
Evan Phillips
Courtney Marie Andrews
Easton Stagger Phillips

 

Episode 09 // The Search: Graham Zimmerman

From a young age, Graham Zimmerman was inspired by the rugged peaks of the New Zealand alps, and later, the cascades of Washington and the pacific northwest.

During high school, Graham developed a keen interest in geology and it was then that he would experience his first involvement with mountaineering.  But it wasn’t until he returned to New Zealand for University that climbing became the driving force in his life.

Since that time, Zimmerman has honed his craft, and over the last decade he’s pioneered a myriad of exploratory routes in Alaska, Patagonia, and most recently, The Karakoram.  But for Graham, it’s not just about climbing.  Rather, it’s about living an all-encompassing lifestyle that combines exploration, creativity and challenging alpinism.  Getting to the top is one thing, but how you get there is everything.


Music

• Space Song / Evan & Molly / Evan & Molly (2012)
• Augusta / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
• The Search / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
• Lost Again / Evan Phillips / Goodnight My Dearest Stranger (2012)
• Looper / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
• Red Light / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2014)
• Stay / Easton Stagger Phillips / Resolution Road (2014)
•The Search / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)


Links

Patreon
Evan Phillips
Graham Zimmerman

Episode 08 // Short Ropes: Katie’s Micro-Expeditions

Last month I sat down to chat with Alaskan climber and mountain explorer Katie Strong. Katie is an ambitious adventurer, as well as a driven environmental lawyer, which means her career often-times takes center stage, leaving her with limited amounts of free time. But that doesn’t keep her from spending time in the mountains. Rather, it just means she has to pack big trips into shorter blocks. Enter the “micro-expedition”.


Music

• Space Song / Evan & Molly / Evan & Molly (2012)
• Augusta / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
• Stereo / Evan Phillips / Goodnight My Dearest Stranger (2012)
• The Talkeetnas / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
• The Gauntlet / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
• Pick Yourself Up / Evan Phillips / Songs From Lake Irene (2007)


Links

Patreon
Evan Phillips
Katie Strong

Episode 07 // The Power Of Being Human: Luc Mehl

Growing up in the village of McGrath, Luc Mehl was inspired at a young age by the simplicity of rural living, and the vast Alaskan wilderness surrounding him.

As a teenager, Luc moved to Anchorage to attend high school, and it was during this period that he would first experience rock climbing and other outdoor sports.  But at that junction, his passion for academics and learning would take center stage.

After earning his undergraduate degree in geology, Luc attended UC Santa Barbara where he would earn his first master’s degree.  But as much as Luc enjoyed school, he’d always struggled to find balance between the rigid structure of academia, and the more dynamic lifestyle he’d known as a kid. Ultimately, he returned to Alaska in 2003, deeply depressed, and unsure which direction to take.

It was during this period, a time Luc refers to as his “dark year”, that he would literally stumble his way into the mountains, only to come out on the other side with a restored sense of purpose, and a new way of living.


Music

• Space Song / Evan & Molly / Evan & Molly (2012)
• Augusta / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
• Valley Below / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2013)
• Driftin’ / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2014)
• Traversing Rappel / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
• Guess I Was Just Young / Evan Phillips / Silhouettes (2015)
• Logan McCarthy / Evan Phillips / Unresolved (2017)
• Spacewalker / Evan Phillips / Silhouettes (2017)


Links

Patreon
Evan Phillips
Luc Mehl

Episode 06 // Short Ropes: The Risk Of Commitment

Nestled in the heart of the Alaska Range, lies what many believe to be one of the most beautiful mountains in the world: Mount Huntington.  Rising on all sides to form a symmetrical pyramid of rock, snow and ice, Huntington has captured the imagination of bold and dedicated alpinists for decades.

When the French Ridge was first climbed in 1964, the mountaineering world took notice.  Then just a year later, when a young David Roberts and crew climbed the stunning west face, the mountaineering world was shocked. Both of these climbs raised the standard of what could be done in Alaska’s mountains, as well as setting a precedent for what future alpinists could expect on Huntington: remoteness, sustained, hard climbing, total commitment.

By 2016, most of Huntington’s major features had been climbed.  But one line, perhaps the most committing of them all, had yet to be ascended: The complete south ridge.  Rising nearly 7,000 feet, the south ridge follows a serpentine spine of four jagged sub-peaks, each connected by delicate gendarmes and stacked cornices.  Of the south ridge, David Roberts wrote, “It was not so much a ridge as five separate, serrated peaks, each increasingly higher.”  Although a few teams had ascended the upper south ridge of Huntington over the years, few parties had considered a go at the complete south ridge.  That is until this year.

Over a stretch of perfect weather in April 2017, American alpinists Jess Roskelly and Clint Helander made the first ascent of the complete south ridge in a single 5-day push.  The climb was everything the duo had anticipated and more, pushing- the limits of their endurance, and forcing them to commit psychologically in a way neither of them had experienced in the past.

A few days later after they got down from the climb, I sat down with Jess and Clint in Anchorage, to recount this once in a lifetime adventure.  The interview picks up on the second day of their trip, as they are crossing the east fork of the Tokositna Glacier, and starting the initial climbing up the first peak of the south ridge of Huntington.

Music

• Space Song / Evan & Molly / Evan & Molly (2012)
• Augusta / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
• Letter That You Sent / Evan Phillips / Lonely Mountain (2017)
• Trippy Instrumental / Andy Tholberg / Unreleased (2017)
• Lucillia / Easton Stagger Phillips / Resolution Road (2014)


Links

Patreon
Evan Phillips
Clint Helander
Jess Roskelley
Andy Tholberg

Episode 05 // Alaska Ranger: Mark Westman

Mark Westman is one of Alaska’s most prolific alpinists. On Denali alone, Westman has climbed a myriad of monumental routes including the Cassin Ridge, Isis Face, Denali Diamond and Slovak Direct.  He’s also climbed a number of important routes on other Alaska Range peaks including Mount Hunter, Mount Silverthrone and Mount Huntington.

On episode 05, Westman traces his roots in the outdoors, the important partnerships in his life and the challenges he’s faced in and out of the mountains.


Music

•  Space Song / Evan & Molly / Evan & Molly (2012)
•  Augusta / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
•  I Know You Hate Me (But You Love Me Too) / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2013)
•  Infinite Spur / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
•  Instrumental / Andy TholbergUnreleased (2017)
•  Looper / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
•  Celeno Peak / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
•  Winter 83′ / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)

•  Rely On Me / Evan Phillips / Lonely Mountain (2017)


Links

Patreon
Evan Phillips
Mark Westman

 

Episode 04 // Short Ropes: Chitistone Chuckles

In February, 2016 Dusty Eroh, Andrew Burr, Scott Adamson and Todd Tumolo rode, pushed and postholed their fatbikes up the Nizina River to the mythical frozen waterfalls of the Chitistone valley. Equal parts climbing and comedy, the trip was an authentic and memorable Alaskan adventure.

In Episode 04, Dusty tells the story first-hand, reflects on his time with Scott and discusses how he got his nickname, “Dirty D.”


Music

• Space Song / Evan & Molly / Evan & Molly (2012)
• Augusta / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
• Ambien / Andy Tholberg / Unreleased (2017)
• Beta Fish / Andy Tholberg / Unreleased (2017)
• Silky Smooth / Andy Tholberg / Unreleased (2017)
• Corn Flakes / Andy Tholberg / Unreleased (2017)
• Fleeting Fleets / Andy Tholberg / Unreleased (2017)
• Pumper / Andy Tholberg / Unreleased (2017)


Links

Patreon
Evan Phillips
Scott Adamson
Kyle Dempster
Andrew Burr Photography

 

Episode 03 // Life Revelations: Clint Helander

Finding truth in the Revelation Mountains

Clint Helander left home at 18 years old, hoping to escape a tense relationship with his mother, and to start finding his own way thru life.  When he came to Alaska a year later to attend college, a chance encounter with a new group of friends would expose Clint to the outdoors, and eventually lead him to the mythical Revelation Mountains.  Little did he know that along the way, he’d learn more about the importance of relationships with his friends, and ultimately his mother, than he ever could have imagined.


Music

• Space Song / Evan & Molly / Evan & Molly (2012)
• Augusta / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
• Stars / Giorgioff – Phillips / Unreleased (2014)
• Tackle / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
• Her Glorious Morning / Evan Phillips / Goodnight My Dearest Stranger (2012)
• Thru The Clouds / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
• Goodbye Blues / Evan Phillips /Goodnight My Dearest Stranger (2012)
• Lonely Mountain / Evan Phillips / Silhouettes (2015)


Links

Patreon
Evan Phillips
Clint Helander

Episode 01 // The Expression Of Climbing: Charlie Sassara

Growing up in the wilds of Alaska, Charlie Sassara always yearned for adventure. But it wasn’t until he found the “expression” of climbing that his life’s path changed forever. From early harrowing ascents on Mount Deborah and Denali in winter, to visionary climbs and bold rescues in the Wrangell-St. Elias, Charlie is a compelling character, and one of Alaska’s most enduring alpinists.


Music

• Space Song / Evan & Molly / Evan & Molly (2012)
• Augusta / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
• Learning To Climb / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
• Afterschool Special / Evan Phillips / Silhouettes (2015)
• Silhouettes / Evan Phillips / Silhouettes (2015)
• Learning To Climb / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
• Lucillia / Evan Phillips / Lonely Mountain (2017)
• The Fox / Evan Phillips / Silhouettes (2015)


Links

Patreon
Evan Phillips