On Episode 149 of the Enormocast, I sit down in the Wilkinson Family “Shabin” (shed that became a cabin) with the alpinist and author, Freddie Wilkinson. Freddie is known throughout the land as a super capable and stoked partner, but he’s also got his finger in the pie of many climbing related endeavors besides sending the gnar: writing, films, guiding, and owning a rock gym . Though he’s climbed worldwide, his heart is still right there in the Northeast and the White Mountains. A bit of a journeyman in many disciplines, he’s also added husband and father to his resume in the last few years.
On Episode 148, I had the honor and pleasure of talking to Hugh Herr. Hugh was a prodigy rock climber as a kid, and in 1982, at the age of 17, an accident on Mt Washington in New Hampshire changed the course of his life forever, and ironically, perhaps for the better. Hugh and his partner were lost for three days in a storm, and subsequently, Herr lost both legs below the knee to frostbite. He quickly returned to climbing, but when that passion waned, it was replaced by a desire to change the world of bionics and create prosthetic limbs better than the original biological counterpart. Now Hugh, a professor at MIT, is far better known in that field than he ever was as a rock climber.
On Episode 147 of the Enormocast, I sit down with current American Alpine Club CEO, Phil Powers. Phil cut his climbing teeth as an instructor at NOLS, and went on to combine a deep personal climbing resumé with guiding and instruction across the US and the world. At the helm of the AAC, Phil has tried to guide the club back to relevancy and broaden its base to include old-timey mountaineers and sneering boulderers alike. As a former NOLS instructor, a guide throughout the US, owner of Jackson Hole Mountain Guides, and spearheading the AAC‘s education component, Phil reckons he’s taught thousands to not only climb, but cherish the places that all climbers love.
On Episode 144 of the Enormocast, I sit down at the Ouray ice festival with ice climbing dark horse, Rapheal Slawinski. While a total legend in his backyard of the Canadian Rockies, Raph is maybe not quite the household name of his compatriot, Will Gadd. Yet, he has been on the forefront of ice climbing, dry-tooling, and big mountain climbing for over 20 years, receiving a Piolet D’or in 2014 for his and Ian Welsted’s ascent of K6 West in the Karokorum of Pakistan. Part affable Polish Canadian, part precision machine, Raphael found his calling scraping away at ice on rock in the Canadian Rockies and beyond.
On Episode 142 of the Enormocast, I sit down in a wide open and relaxing space in SLC to talk to big wall legend, John Middendorf. John disappeared to Tasmania after single-handedly changing big wall climbing in the 1990s. Previously, porta-ledges afforded respite from the vertical, but could not hold any serious storm at bay. John’s designs at his company A5 lead the way to a ledge that could handle nearly anything the weather could throw at it. Armed with this shelter, climbers could cast off into the upward void for as log as it took come rain, shine, sleet, or snow. John himself took the ledge to the great ranges, putting up The Grand Voyage on Great Trango Tower with Xaver Bongard, perhaps still the hardest wall route in the world. Now he’s back in the designing game with the new D4 Ledges. And a shout-out to Rock Steady Body Works for the recording space.