Episode 7: Hayden Kennedy: Alpine Taliban or Patagonian Custodian™? (Part 2)

Imagine the possibilities?

In Part 2 of my epic interview with Hayden Kennedy, we get to the bottom of the arguments against Jason Kruk and Hayden’s decision to chop the Compressor Route on Cerro Torre. Hayden withers under my pillorying verbal attack, let me tell you. Begging for mercy. I also beg PBR for a sponsorship. Do you hear me? I will do anything for you, my overlords.

About Chris Kalous

Owner, operator, guru, yogi of enormocast.
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16 Responses to Episode 7: Hayden Kennedy: Alpine Taliban or Patagonian Custodian™? (Part 2)

  1. Nick says:

    Fantastic set of interviews. Hayden appears to be an insightful and thoughtful man. I’m only 26, but I certainly wouldn’t mistake him for a boy.

    Keep up the great work on the podcast, Chris.

  2. Clay Hall says:

    Thanks for getting this out anyway Chris. Hayden is obviously a brilliant climber and kid, but he is just a kid and my view is that this was a naive mistake. It certainly didn’t serve to unify the climbing community.
    I should mention that I do work for Pabst… or whatever else is on sale…
    As a sidenote, reading about this Mudflap Girl in the Grizzer Crik has got me stoked to get off my lazy ass and go climbing again. I’ll let you know how it goes. I hope I don’t have to chop too many bolts… Once I’m back in shape I’m going to go back down to Chaltén and chop that sissy bridge across the Torre River in town and save them all from the sin of their own sloth and moral turpitude. Bridges? Maestri didn’t need no stinking bridges…

    • Tim Beecher says:

      I think the distinction to make here is that the compressor route took a face that represents one of the greatest climbing challenges on the planet and defiled it. Removing the bolts preserved this natural challenge and assured that it wouldn’t become reminiscent of the trash heap gaper fest that Everest has become. Unifying the “climbing community” seems far less important than preserving the great challenges that still exist. It’s a tragedy when the worlds greatest mountaineering challenges become the domain of anyone with enough money to bulldoze their way to the top. The bulldozer methods used to fuel egos seem far more naive than preserving one of worlds greatest climbing challenges.

  3. Clay Hall says:

    My god… halfway through this thing… just stick the knitting needles in my eyes right now… hipocrasy, empirialism and elitism at it’s best. I could go on forever about what a circle jerk this whole part 2 is.. but for me it boils down to this:

    A) You ‘boys’ had rapped your route and gone home: respect (not ‘Hero’, get over yourself).

    B) You did what you did and wasted all this energy trying to defend this elitist/empirialist bullshit: complete chumps.

    This issue should have been left for the locals of Chaltén to decide. If anyone was in a better position to chop this route it was Rolo, but he didn’t have the nuts and convinced these impressionalbe youngsters to do his dirty work. When Henry Barber was in the Valley he called it the Valley Christian syndrome.

    I’m still listening and I think I’m going to puke… “We did it for Cerro Torre…” How do you know what accpetable practice was before you were even born?

    God, how did Alpinism and our Christian Souls survive so long before these kids came along and saved us all?

    No mention of the Ferrari route, only “the easy way out”? Is that the only route on Cerro Torre?

    “Humility?” Wow…

    Pass me the knitting needles…

    • Chris Kalous says:

      Clay,

      Can’t argue with this too much. Elitism, certainly. I do take slight issue with the line “How do you know what accpetable practice was before you were even born?” History is certainly reviewable by subsequent generations. In fact, subsequent generations often have a perspective that can be more sharp than those who were involved. A contemporaneous event to the Compressor Route, the Vietnam War, is an example of something that is far better understood now than it was at the time.

      Thanks for listening. Hope you never found those needles.

      CK

  4. James says:

    Hey Chris,

    Greetings from Canada! Love the podcast man, keep up the great work. I’ve recently relocated from the Canadian Rockies to Toronto and the transition has been rough for my climbing. Although there is still some good climbing to be found around here, its hard to get super psyched. Listening to the Enormocast turns a boring day at work into a psyche-fest of motivation and inspiration to get out regularly for some adventures. You and your guests passion is so obvious and it immediately connects with like minded people who just love to climb.

    Cheers man!

    Ps. Been drinking more pbr than ever before… coincidence?

    • Chris Kalous says:

      James,

      Where’d you live in the Rockies? I’m a legend in Canmore (and my own mind)! Glad I can help out with the psyche. I’m only half joking about seeking the PBR sponsorship so keep swilling. If I could just talk to the right person at the right moment…

      CK

      • James says:

        I lived in Jasper, about 4 hours north of Banff. There is some really great climbing up there that is totally off the radar. Although I’m not quite a legend (outside of my mind), I had some legendary times! Next time I am out that way I will totally check out some of your routes in the Ghost and Canmore!

        Keep working on that sponsorship!

  5. Jeremy Devine says:

    Thank you Chris for nailing down Hayden for a few hours for this. I love the medium of the podcast especially for a topic like this one. Keep it up so I can keep listening!

    • Chris Kalous says:

      Thanks, Jeremy. I, too, thought that the topic and format in the HK interview really showed the strengths of the medium in presenting details and emotion. Being able to really go point by point added a lot to the larger conversation. HK told me that a bunch of people came up to him and said they really enjoyed those episodes and were thinking differently about the issue afterwards.

      Keep listening and tell some friends!

  6. John says:

    Chris,

    That’s an interesting comment about Everest. I had never considered that things might be very different today if the Nepalese government hadn’t commercialized things they way they did. I hear Emily Harrington and Sam Elias are headed over there soon to do a summit climb. Any chance you could get them on the show before (or maybe after would be better) to get their POV about using fixed lines, ladders, etc. to summit the world’s tallest mountain? As climbers with mixed & ice experience, I’m sure they must have mixed emotions about the style used on Everest.

    • Chris Kalous says:

      Hey John,

      I guess I was talking out my ass having never been there, but I wasn’t at the fall of Rome, either, but I have opinions about what likely caused it. I look at some old National Goegraphics or read accounts from the 50s and 60s and it was the wild frontier. Now the Chinese have a paved road to basecamp on the Tibetan side, etc. Sam and Emily have left but I certainly know them well enough to have them on the show down the road. They are on the short list, anyway. Not sure how hard they can be on the scene there, though, being part of the TNF machine, ya know?

      I have another buddy leaving for the mountain to do some filming. He might have a better perspective when he gets back.

      Thanks for the comment and the topic ideas.

      CK

  7. Patrick says:

    One thing that never came up was the possible implications for other bolt ladders, say, the last pitch of the Nose. It would be way less clear-cut that what Hayden and Jason did down in Patagonia, but in a lot of ways, many of the same ‘rules’ (if you can call them that!) seem to apply. I’m with what they did down in Patagonia, but not sure how I’d feel about similar situations up on El Cap (or elsewhere).

    • Chris Kalous says:

      Patrick,
      Here’s the key bit for me, and this is esoteric, I know, but the intent surrounding the ascent. The Nose was done in a style that was appropriate for the day, and the climbers did their best with the technology of the day. In the end, by all accounts, they were forced to create that bolt ladder. With Maestri and the compressor route, he did not climb as hard as was possible and then use the bolts as a last resort to finalize an otherwise well-done effort, an honest effort. Maestri purposefully and cynically avoided cracks and features. A better analogy would be if the Nose had a bolt ladder 20 meters to the left of the Stove Leg cracks. Instead, Harding et al created pitons that would fit (the actual stove legs) and continued up the “line”.

      The more controversial part of the Nose is the chipped Jardine Traverse. Some say the route has not been freed because of that. Interestingly, Jardine had the very intent of making the Nose a climb for the masses. His intent was to make it attainable for everyone. Had he succeeded, I’m sure we would be at the same point as we are now with the Compressor. Everyone would be happily skipping up the Free Nose, while one line over, some hard men would be scrapping up a new free ascent of the 5.14 variety and grumbling about the use of the chipped route. Those climbing the chipped route would have to know they were faking something, but hey, we get to climb the Nose free so what the hell, right? Jardine was a jerk, but what’s done is done, etc. (Actually chipping to free, and pin scars being “chipping” for me falls in that intent realm, as well.)

      However, we know that this would be antithetical to everything we feel sacred about climbing. Disney World climbing. Everest, circa 2012, actually.

      Anyway, I digress. In the end, I don’t think all bolt ladders are equal. Hell, we’d not even be talking about it if Maestri had simply used bolt ladders to connect features. He skipped features, steered around with bolts, with a 200 lb COMPRESSOR, and it just so happen to be on the mountain that at the time was already considered the last great problem- not some obscure lump in the middle of nowhere.

      There are other bolts in the world that have been placed cynically, unnecessarily for sure. Some get chopped, some don’t, but one thing is not the other and analogy only goes so far to explain.

      Cerro Torre, 400 bolts, a compressor, siege tactics on a line that had been strongly attempted alpine style, and THE OPEN INTENT TO DESECRATE. Those factors combine this way are totally unique. They add up to something WE ALL AGREE IS THE WRONG WAY TO CLIMB.

      Time passes and the route becomes useful so everyone now wants to equivocate.

      Anyway, thanks for the comment, the above rebuttal comes with all due respect.

      Chris

      • Clay Hall says:

        Awesome rebuttal and all true, Chris. But Donini is correct when he says it is a local issue, whether it is a moral one or not. What would be really cool would be to hear from one of the dissenting voices from El Chaltén.

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