July 1990: Thomas Bubendorfer at the Moskvina Glacier base camp below Peak Communism. He was on his way out when we arrived that summer. Thomas set a speed record on the north face Eiger in 1983 that was not bettered for 20 years: 4hrs 50min. A week prior he and Peter Rohrmoser climbed the face in 10 hours, belaying only 12 pitches while soloing the rest. Day-climbing on the Eiger, without a pack wasn't exactly common in 1983 ...
July 1990: At the Moskvina Glacier base camp below Peak Communism (so-named at the time). When this appeared in Mountain Magazine a friend quipped, “Damn, you look like you just came down from the trees.”
July 1990: at the Moskvina Glacier base camp in the Pamirs with the lower slopes of Pic Communism in the background. We were out of time – and I was well-done – so flying out to Jirgital and driving to Dushanbe before leaving the area.
September 1990: Carol Davidson in Tuolumne. I crashed her honeymoon since she married my best friend and I rarely saw either of them during that era. When I first met her I hadn’t yet found my path or voice. Carol has been constant at every step of my life.
1991: during the filming of one of the pilots for Pushing The Limits, I believe we are on the Glacier de Trient. Left-to-right: Michel Fauquet (safety), Dominique Gleizes (who had just base jumped from the Clocher du Portalet), Bruno de Champris (editor and first A.D.), two pilots from Air Glaciers in Sion, Switzerland, Bjorn Anderson (production assistant and muscle), and myself with an enormous video camera I was using to shoot a documentary about the making of such action films.
June 1991: ABC television sent a crew to Chamonix to film me soloing the Frendo Spur on the Aiguille du Midi. It was a modern production at the time. I wore a lipstick camera on my helmet and a microwave transmitter in my pack, David Breashears had one on an extendable baton, and the images were beamed down to recorders at the Plan de l’Aiguille. Peter Pilifian shot the wide and more detailed images with a full-size video camera. The show eventually aired under the title, “The Extreme Edge” and it was fairly entertaining.
June 1991: During filming for ABC’s short-lived show, “The Extreme Edge.” The show’s director – whose name escapes me – is at the left and in front of him the man who captured the microwave transmissions transmitted from the multiple cameras used during to cover the climb. Marie Hiroz who recorded audio is next to me, and cameraman Peter Pilafian next to her.
April 1992: Andy Parkin on a little bivvy ledge atop the 8th pitch during the first ascent of “Beyond Good and Evil” on the north face of the Aiguille des Pelerins, Chamonix.
Summer 1992: In the Condoriri massif in Bolivia when we were shooting the feature version of “Pushing The Limits”. Francois Rickard had drowned. The lead actor had been fired and sent home. The director did some camera tests with me and producers in France approved so I was drafted to act … it was quite a trip.
August 1992: Thierry Donard, myself, Francois Lamotte, and Joachim Hellenger on the way to Las Lenas. We were shooting segments of “Pushing the Limits” in Bolivia when skydiving cameraman Francois Rickard was killed. Fights ensued, the lead actor was fired, the producers insisted we continue, and despite the loss we did. The picture was shot in the Buenos Aires airport the day we left Bolivia. Francois’s body had not yet been recovered and none of us were sure of what we were doing. I barely remember the next three weeks.
Summer 1993: Fiona Gelin with a trained Golden Eagle above Chamonix. The eagle symbolized freedom in “Pushing the Limits” and in this scene it was set free by Fiona, who was more or less the muse of the story. The eagle was amazing, trained to the glove like a hawk, its owner (if one could accurately call him such) could call the eagle to his wrist using a lure though the eagle was flying over a mile away.
September 1993: Earlier in the month I tried to solo the Gabarrou-Silvy on the Aiguille Sans Nom, climbed the pillar but then retreated when I realized how much back-roping I would need to do on the upper part of the route. I returned with Christophe Beaudoin (seen here at our bivouac) but got skunked again by thin conditions so he and I finished on the Marsigny-Mohr variation of the Brown-Patey route. Up there we stood for a while where Philippe had fallen, and then marveled at the steepness of the exit Francois soloed afterward before he was evacuated by a helicopter.
May 1994: Scott Backes and Steve Mascioli in a snowcave on the Kahiltna Glacier. We were waiting out the weather. Storm after storm kept us off the North Buttress of Mount Hunter. All of us waiting: Joe Josephson, Michael Kennedy, Greg Child, Ken Wiley ... a strong group of suitors for some of the finest lines on the planet. Steve was killed on the North Buttress 6/6/97.
May 1994: Steve Mascioli (in the tent), Joe Josephson and Scott Backes scoping the north buttress of Mount Hunter.
June 1994: Scott Backes and I had been moving for 39 hours straight when Michael Kennedy, Greg Child, Joe Josephson and Ken Wiley met us below the west ridge of Mount Hunter. They recovered our skis from below the north buttress so we didn’t have to walk the miles back to Kahiltna base camp, post-holing in the deep snow.
June or July 1994: Chris Grover (cropped), Brian Mecham, myself, Geoff Weigand, Bill Belcourt and David Feinberg at Maria Cranor’s house in Salt Lake City. Shortly thereafter, Maria stood up as my “Best Person” when I married Cathy Beloeil. Later a few of these guys made a bet on how long it would last and Grover’s prediction proved most accurate.
May 1995: Scott Backes, Colin Grissom and Alex Lowe in the Park Service Weatherport at 14,000’ on the west buttress of Denali. Scott, Colin, and I were volunteering, to help rescue climbers if need be. Alex had just joined us for a dash up the Upper West Rib. I recall the roundtrip taking about ten hours, and it was cold. A week later Scott, Alex and I were flown to 19,500’ in a Chinook and descended to 19,300’ on the Rib to rescue a pair of Spaniards who had been trapped for several days. Alex died 10/5/99.
June 1995: Ed Pope on Condoriri in Bolivia. Ed approached me as a client and turned into a good friend. We climbed a few small routes in Chamonix to get to know each other then climbed a new route “Money is Not Our God” on the west face of Peak 5886 in Nepal. Ed topped the 19,300’ peak ten days after leaving Milwaukee in an awe-inspiring expression of determination.
March 1996: Scott Backes below the Eiger during one of the biggest cluster-fucks of my career. Kevin Cooney and I wanted to climb the north faces of the Eiger, Matterhorn and Jorasses in winter using bikes and skis to travel between them. Short on cash, we accepted that a film crew tag along. Conditions were bad, flexibility limited, and relationship with the production company terrible. The only bright lights for us were Scott (hired as the climbing cameraman), and Tad Linn.
July 1996: Scott Backes enjoying the centennial celebrations in La Paz 48 hours after topping out on Pico del Norte. The city is at high altitude, and so were we.
July 1996: On an acclimatization hike in Bolivia. We climbed over a saddle to check out Ancohuma for new route potential but didn't like how dry the face was. A huge storm changed that but we ran out of time and settled for a shorter, steeper line on Pico del Norte.
July 1996: In base camp below Pico del Norte. I started the trip to Bolivia fit and lean, ran/walked a marathon chasing thieves who stole from our base camp, did some acclimatization routes, then got stomach sick for a week in La Paz, and finally hiked for a couple of days back into the mountains. I was down to around 3% body fat and still recovering well, which taught me what was possible regarding power-to-weight ratio and that served me well a couple of years later.
July 1996: Scott Backes in La Paz. We descended from “Fuck ‘Em, They’re All Posers Anyway”, hiked out, drove from Sorata, showered, changed out outlook and joined a celebration commemorating the founding of the city. We attended a fashion show that night then I hopped a plane to Utah where I was taken from the airport to a Buzzcocks reunion concert, and shot an IPSC match the next day. A fulfilling week.
February 1997: Paul Giraud in Ushuaia before we boarded the Professor Khromov to cross the Drake Passage. Check the Antarctica video to see the result of that journey. Paul died in a helicopter accident while filming in the Yukon in June 2000.
February 1997: Mark Wilford in the Iceberg Cemetery, Antarctica. Crampons don’t exactly go with an inflatable boat but neither does ice climbing come to mind when looking at floating icebergs.
February 1997: The camera and safety crew running in a storm off the shore of the Antarctic Peninsula. We were down there to shoot a commercial and had remarkably good weather for most of the three week-long visit but when this storm showed its teeth conditions got downright scary. Dry-suit or not, if you go over you are done.
April 1997: Christophe Beaudoin in Chamonix. We did some good climbs together in the early-90s. We accidentally discovered “Beyond Good and Evil” before Andy Parkin and I tried it. We did the lower part of the Gabarrou-Silvy finishing via the ice route Francois Marsigny climbed after Philippe Mohr fell to his death, which was when I discovered “There Goes the Neighborhood.” He was a good partner.
December 1997: Lisa with Karl Honhold and our Akita Zuma before the start of the US Cyclocross Championships, which were held in Colorado that year.
Steve House flipping pancakes at our camp on the Ruth Glacier in March 1998. The thermometer broke early on the trip but it was just as well since the nightly readings were registering near -30 and we were cowering beneath two sleeping bags each.
1998: Andrew Bielecki below Quandary Peak, Colorado after a wonderful spring ski tour. “Just a quick nip after ski touring to make the Sunday evening drive down I-70 a little easier to handle ... and it'll help me recover, right?”
June 1998: Scott Backes makes the morning brew in Vedauwoo, Wyoming. I’d always heard of the place, and feared its reputation for sharp crystals and wide cracks. The terrain lived up to the hype, and we got what we needed there.
Late 90s: Andrew Bielecki in Frisco, CO after a day of posing for the camera. For a period of two years I earned my living shooting pictures. The work was published in magazines and for advertising. Andrew was one of my favorite subjects. He could do any sport, hammed it up for the lens, and had his own wild projects, like an annual snowshoe race in Great Sand Dune National Monument (until the NPS shut it down).
Late-90s: Typical of Scott Backes: if there is a fence he stands outside of it. Zack Snyder at left, and Kurt Johnstad (on porta-ledge) somewhere in the AZ/UT desert shooting close-ups on a car commercial.
Late-90s: I believe this is at the Provo Gun Club and my first experience shooting a fully-tuned .38 Super race gun. I settled on shooting stock guns instead, with an STI .40 hi-cap that Brian Enos helped me build. I down-sized the tech again since I wanted to shoot what I carried and only shot single stack .45s for a while. My last year of competition I shot Minor power factor with a 9x23 single stack 1911 well enough to win the Utah State Championship in my class.
Late-90s: When Zuma was just a pup one of Lisa’s friends taught her how to High-5 and it always gave me the biggest smile when she did it.
After midnight 1/1/99: Brian Enos outside his old place in Apache Junction during the annual trophy burning ceremony. Brian isn’t attached to the things that represent experience. The experience itself and the memory of it are all that matter. Each year he cleansed himself by burning the year’s awards; plaques, trophies, certificates were all torched freeing him to begin the New Year fresh.
January 1999: Brian Enos on Superstition Mountain. Our friend Bjorn was also along for the hike. The ankle-breaking terrain shocked me. I didn’t think the desert was so rugged, or that plants could be so sharp and hard, hearty. I could see how the desert might get into a man, deep enough to change him.