Open Book: Kathy Karlo

If you’re a climber, who consumes climbing related media like writing, video and podcasts – well, chances are, you’ve heard of Kathy Karlo.

Kathy is the creative force behind For The Love Of Climbing, an entertaining and insightful blog that combines honest, to the point writing about life on and off the walls, mixed with a good dose of self-deprecating humor.

I had heard of Kathy’s blog probably sometime in 2017. Although I perused thru some of her stories and photos, I have to admit, I never really took the time to sit down and actually delve into her work. But when I heard she was starting a new podcast, I eagerly awaited her first episode. Let’s just say, I was not let down.

For me, listening to Kathy’s podcast for the first time was an emotional gut punch that had me laughing one minute, crying the next and at the end of it all – feeling astonished at the level of creativity and production quality. A true lesson in the power of audio.

That’s why I was stoked to connect with Kathy a few months ago when she came thru Alaska on assignment with her job with the No Man’s Land Film Festival. We got to sit down for an engaging conversation about the ups and downs of life on the road, how she first started writing a blog, and how that eventually led to her starting a podcast.


Music

• Lonely Mountain / Evan Phillips / Silhouettes (2015)
• Augusta / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2018)
• Going To The Gunks / Evan Phillips /  Unreleased (2018)
• Space Song / Evan & Molly /  Evan & Molly (2012)
• Baby Come Home / Easton Stagger Phillips / Overseas (2014)
• She Was Gone /Easton Stagger Phillips / One For The Ditch (2009)
• Falling Down / Evan Phillips /  Silhouettes (2015)
• Close To Me / Evan Phillips / Cabin Vibes (2018)


Links

For The Love Of Climbing
Evan Phillips
Patreon

Sponsors

Alaska Rock Gym
Moose’s Tooth Pub & Pizzeria
The Hoarding Marmot
Behind The Sun Therapeutics

 

Full Circle: Jon Waterman

When I think back to my formative time as a young Alaskan climber, I’m often filled with memories and nostalgia that are overwhelming.  The wonder I felt when I first roped up to cross a boundless icefield, littered with crevasses, and dotted with sabre-like nunataks. My first uneasy solo climb up a 2,000 foot ice face in the western Chugach.  Seeing my life flash before my eyes when a river crossing went bad, sending me thru a turbulent cauldron of boulders and snags, only to walk away unscathed.  And the first time I felt the cold finality of death, when my 19 year old friend was buried under 15 feet of snow in Hatcher Pass.

Like many young alpinists, my early experiences in and out of the mountains were defined by a succession of monumental highs tempered with desperate lows.  Maybe that’s why Jonathan Waterman’s book, In The Shadow Of Denali – made such an indelible mark on me. The collection of short stories, which is a a mountaineering classic, followed Waterman’s years as an alpinist and mountaineering ranger on Denali in the 1970’s and 80’.  As a neophyte Alaskan climber, just out of high school – it affected me deeply.

Although I was fascinated with the climbing stories Waterman penned, I was equally entranced by the characters he described.  Tales of legendary figures like Mugs Stump and Ray Genet kept me turning the pages at a frantic pace. But it was the stories of the people living their lives in the shadow of the mountain, that hit me the hardest.  The descriptions of the hard drinking Herb Atwater, and the ill-fated journey of Gretta Berglund – painted a brutally honest picture of a darker side of Alaska.

Needless to say, the book left a lasting impression on me, and I can honestly say In The Shadow Of Denali is the most influential climbing-related book I’ve ever read.

That’s why I was excited to get a chance to interview Jon Waterman this last week.  We talked about everything – from his bitter 1982 winter ascent of The Cassin Ridge, to a 2,000 mile paddle trip across the northwest passage, as well as his new book ‘Chasing Denali’.  


Music

• Lonely Mountain / Evan Phillips / Silhouettes (2015)
• Augusta / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2018)
• Fbx 1975 / Evan Phillips /  Unreleased (2017)
• Learning To Climb /Evan Phillips /  Unreleased (2017)
• Augusta / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2018)
• Holding On / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2018)
• Silhouettes / Evan Phillips /  Silhouettes (2015)
• Hard Times / Evan Phillips / Cabin Vibes (2018)


Links

Jon Waterman (Website)
Chasing Denali (2018)
In The Shadow Of Denali (1993)
High Alaska (1988)
Surviving Denali (1983)
Evan Phillips
Patreon

Sponsors

Alaska Rock Gym
Moose’s Tooth Pub & Pizzeria
The Hoarding Marmot
Behind The Sun Therapeutics

Mount Robson’s Emperor Face

The Canadian Rockies are home to some of the most iconic alpine peaks in North America.  Mountains like Alberta, Columbia, Edith Cavell and North Twin (to name a few) are synonymous with classic rockies alpine climbing: variable rock quality ranging from total choss, to flint hard quartzite – hanging glaciers and double cornices, veins of pristine alpine and water ice – and the classic sandbag grade of 5.9 A2.  

But if there’s one mountain that stands out from the rest (Literally) – it’s Mount Robson.  Topping out at nearly 13,000’ in height, and with huge relief on all sides, Robson is truly a sight to behold.  It’s massive south face rises nearly 10,000’ from the Yellowhead Hwy – luring tourists, hikers and climbers for a closer look.

But it’s the northern side of Robson that speaks the language of the true alpinist.  In 1913, mountain guide Conrad Kain led a group of clients to the summit after navigating the crevasse-laden Robson Glacier, and chopping steps up the northeast face and on the the summit.  This ultra-classic line, aptly named the Kain Face – was in some ways ahead of it’s time – and is still a serious route.

The ante was upped in 1963 when Pat Callis and Dan Davis ascended the intimidating apron of 60 to 70 degree blue ice and steep snow, known as the north face.

But it wasn’t until 1978, that the biggest face of all – The Emperor Face – was finally climbed by Mugs Stump and Jamie Logan.  The duo spent four days on the route – a line that more or less takes the central rib that splits the 8,000’ face – and with that, established one of the most committing Grade VI lines in the rockies.

Another line on the face was climbed in 1981, by the legendary Dave Cheesmond and Tony Dick.  

And finally in 2002, after multiple attempts over many years – Barry Blanchard, Phillipe Pellet and Eric Dumerac climbed “Infinite Patience” – a classic line following couloirs, ice runnels and interesting mixed pitches up the right side of the Emperor Face.

Although Infinite Patience has now been climbed multiple times (and even soloed by the late Marc Andre LeClerc), it is still one of the most serious lines in the Canadian Rockies – and like other classic rockies routes – an ascent is largely based on finding the face in perfect conditions.  

That’s why I was excited to hear about the line getting repeated again in September of this year by the Canadian / Dutch team of Jas Fauteux and Maarten Von Haren.

I recently got a chance to talk with Jas about his experience on Robson – what it felt like to find that face in perfect conditions – and what it means to have climbed such an iconic line on the emperor of the rockies.


Music

• Augusta / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2018)
• Trails / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2018)
• Corn Flakes / Andrew Tholberg /  Unreleased (2016)
• Lucillia / Easton Stagger Phillips / Resolution Road (2014)


Links

Mount Robson Emperor Face 1st Ascent – AAJ 1978
Evan Phillips
Patreon

Sponsors

Alaska Rock Gym
Moose’s Tooth Pub & Pizzeria
The Hoarding Marmot
Behind The Sun Therapeutics


Shades Of The North Cascades: Nikki Frumkin

Narrative

If you’ve ever spent time flying over, or travelling through the pacific northwest, you’ve most-likely been taken by the monolithic glacier-capped volcanoes that dot the horizon line.  Giants like Mount Rainier, Hood and Adams hold court over some of the most beautiful terrain in north america – and in doing so – form an inspiring backdrop for hikers, climbers and even artists – like Nikki Frumkin.

From an early age, Nikki always had an outdoorsy and creative side, blending a love for animals and playing in the woods, with a deep rooted passion for drawing, sketching and painting.  But it wasn’t until Nikki finished college and headed out west, that her love for art and creativity, would merge with her passion for mountains and the wilderness.

Since that time, Nikki has immersed herself in her craft – forging a lifestyle that revolves around creating art in beautiful places – most notably – the North Cascades of the pacific northwest.

I recently got a chance to sit down with Nikki, to talk about her passion for adventuring in the mountains, her creative business ‘Drawn To High Places’, and the triumphs and challenges she faces making a living as a full-time artist.


Music

• The Fox / Evan Phillips / Silhouettes (2015)
• Learning To Climb / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
• I Come Alive / Evan Phillips /  Cabin Vibes Volume One (2018)
• Silhouettes /Evan Phillips / Silhouettes (2015)
• Old Dirt Road / Evan Phillips /  Cabin Vibes Volume One (2018)
• Goodbye Blues / Evan Phillips /  Lonely Mountain (2017)


Links

Drawn To High Places
Evan Phillips
Support The Firn Line
Jeremy Collins
Rachel Pohl
Semi-Rad

Sponsors

Alaska Rock Gym
Moose’s Tooth Pub & Pizzeria
The Hoarding Marmot
Behind The Sun Therapeutics

A Conversation With David Lama

On today’s episode of The Firn Line, we’ll get to know world-renowned and visionary alpinist, David Lama.

The son of Nepalese and Austrian parents, David was was born with an affinity for movement over natural terrain, and a deep reverence for the high places. As a youngster, Lama excelled at indoor and sport climbing, dominating the competition circuit, and honing his rock climbing skills to the highest standards.
But eventually, a natural progression to the mountains occurred – which has culminated in a multitude of ground-breaking ascents in Patagonia, The Himalaya and beyond.

I recently got a chance to sit down with David in Anchorage, Alaska – to have a candid conversation about his life as a climber, and the vision he follows as an alpinist. We talked about everything, from his early days as a competition climber, to a life-changing experience on the southeast ridge of Cerro Torre, to his meaningful relationship with fellow climber and friend Conrad Anker, to the limitless ideas and projects that lie ahead.

We started our conversation by talking about David’s natural inclination to climb as a youngster, and how a fateful meeting with famous Austrian mountaineer, Peter Habeler, helped steer the trajectory of David’s life – from the confines of rock gyms, to the limitless arena of the mountains.


Music

• Lonely Mountain / Evan Phillips / Silhouettes (2015)
• I Come Alive / Evan Phillips / Cabin Vibes • Volume One (2018)
• Hard Times / Evan Phillips /Cabin Vibes • Volume One (2018)


Links

David Lama
Evan Phillips
Support The Firn Line

Sponsors

Alaska Rock Gym
Moose’s Tooth Pub & Pizzeria
The Hoarding Marmot
Behind The Sun Therapeutics

The Revelator: Eric Parsons

Every mountaineer has a favorite mountain range, a place that for whatever reason centers them, gives them a piece of mind, creates a sense of belonging.  For some, it might be a well-known place like the Sierras: an area of impeccably clean granite towers, speckled with pristine, aqua-colored alpine lakes and a constant supply of near perfect weather.  For others, it might be the Swiss Alps, a range steeped in mountain history and culture, with a list of bold and ultra-classic lines too innumerable to count. And for others, like Alaskan climber and mountain adventurer Eric Parsons, it’s the more obscure areas, like the western ramparts of Alaska’s Chugach Mountains, that define their lives.

Growing up in New York, Eric spent summers camping and taking cross-country road trips with his family to places like the Canadian Rockies, and the desert southwest.  These early experiences created an adventurous mindset that would follow him to college at Colorado State University, and ultimately, the vast expanses of Alaska.

Since that time, Eric has created a unique lifestyle for himself that centers around his family and close-knit group of friends, his bike-packing gear company Revelate Designs, and of course, a constant effusion of adventures in the western Chugach Mountains.

Last summer, I was fortunate to sit down with Eric to talk about his love for the mountains, the passion and creative drive that led him to start Revelate Designs, as well as the meaningful partnerships and friendships he’s developed through climbing and other outdoor pursuits.


Music

• Augusta / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2018)
• Something To Believe In / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2018)
• I Come Alive / Evan Phillips / Camp Vibes, Vol. 01 (2018)
• Guess I Was Just Young / Evan Phillips / Silhouettes (2015)
• Begin / Easton Stagger Phillips / Resolution Road (2014)
• Ode To Easton / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
• Traveller / Evan Phillips / Lonely Mountain (2017)


Links

Eric Parsons
Revelate Designs
Little A Triathalon
Bellicose Peak
Baleful Peak
Evan Phillips
Support The Firn Line

Sponsors

Alaska Rock Gym
Moose’s Tooth Pub & Pizzeria
The Hoarding Marmot
Behind The Sun Therapeutics

Seeking The Sublime: Klara Maisch

 

Alaska is a vast and wild place; a constant fluctuation of movement and changing landscapes.  Rugged mountains are carved by massive, chaotic glaciers – and lush, brown-green valleys are cut by powerful silt-laden rivers.  During the spring and short summer seasons, the landscapes come alive; the lowlands teeming with wildlife and colorful and fragrant boreal forests.  Then in the winter, a darkness falls, blanketing the ground with snow and ice, and I quiet the you can sometimes feel, more than hear.

Some people shy away from these natural environments, choosing a more urban existence full of creature comforts and predictability.  While other folks, people like artist, skier and wilderness guide Klara Maisch, embrace it, choosing to let the wildness of Alaska shape every aspect of who they are, and how they live.

To immerse yourself into Klara’s artwork is to transport yourself into the heart and soul of Alaska’s wilderness.  Flowing lines are meandering rivers.  Circles and shapes are glacial erratics.  Wistful strokes on canvas are citadels in the distance.  And introspective shades and colors, are the crisp interior sky.


Music

• Augusta / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2018)
• Her Glorious Morning /Evan Phillips / Goodnight My Dearest Stranger (2012)
• Learning To Climb / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)
• Afterschool Special / Evan Phillips / Silhouettes (2015)
• Old Dirt Road / Evan Phillips / Cabin Vibes, Vol. 01 (2018)
• The Search / Evan Phillips / Unreleased (2017)


Links

Klara Maisch
Evan Phillips
Support The Firn Line

Sponsors

Alaska Rock Gym
Moose’s Tooth Pub & Pizzeria
The Hoarding Marmot
Behind The Sun Therapeutics