Episode 6: Hayden Kennedy: Alpine Taliban or Patagonian Custodian™? (Part 1)

Maestri and his Compressor (a dramatization).

Oh, man. On Episode 6 of the Enormocast, I sit down in a remote secret bunker deep in the Rockies with the man of the hour and my friend: Hayden Kennedy. HK comes clean about his season in Patagonia with Jason Kruk and their now infamous decision to remove the headwall bolt ladders on Cesare Maestri’s 1970 Compressor Route. Quite a ride its been. This is Part 1.

More fun reading on the Compressor Controversy:
Kelly Cordes’ Cleanest Line Blog
Rolo Garibotti’s site
Italian Stefano Lovison’s view
Arnaud Petit’s view
Everyone else’s view: Supertopo
Everyone else’s view: Mountain Project




22 Replies to “Episode 6: Hayden Kennedy: Alpine Taliban or Patagonian Custodian™? (Part 1)”

  1. I think it’s funny that they left anchor bolts that allowed them to conveniently rap. What hypocrisy. This was just really arrogant elitism and basically vandalism to the local climbing history. Seems like more of a stunt for notoriety than a service to the climbing community. If it was about the climbing community then they would have consulted the LOCAL CLIMBING community for guidance. It would have been easy enough to ask. No doubt the local economy benefitted from climbers traveling to climb a route that is now gone.

    1. I couldn’t disagree more. Rappelling off bolts is a near universal ethic here on planet Earth, and has been for decades, like it or not. Consulting the “local community” sounds great but without some universal transcendental standards alpinism is done for. We are lucky to live in times where we can pursue adventure in beautiful and dangerous places and what Maestri did to that mountain was a disgrace.

  2. Best Enormocast (or OBP) episode yet! I finally had a chance to listen to it a few days. Hayden is not only a badass alpinist but an extremely well-spoken individual. You asked the right questions and we got some great insight into the Cerro Torre bolt-removal issue. It is pretty disheartening that the bolt removal issue overshadowed the death of Carlyle and the very impressive number of ascents Jason and Hayden pulled off in such a short amount of time.
    I’m excited to listen to part II tomorrow. Keep up the good work, Chris.

    1. Incredible podcast. I was on the edge for every word. I felt like I was there. Re: the bolt chopping I am ambivalent. Hayden makes a strong case based on his values but I also understand the sentiment that it is not a good ethic for anyone to determine (unilaterally) what bolts should or should not be chopped. What if every bolt was removed from El Cap by someone who had extreme views about the sanctity of the rock? Whose ethic should rule? I can only sssume Hayden and Kruk saved all the bolts and had thoughtful plans on what to do with them (not to keep them).

  3. I’ve only heard Part 1 so far… Awesome. I think Kruk did a disservice to this whole thing with his righteous written account, and I’m glad to hear that these amazing climbers had the best of intentions. I think the message here is that we should all pay out a little slack… We can cut Kruk slack for his righteous language in the initial account, considering the shock of the mob scene in Chaltén and the death of his good friend. Egualmente, we should cut Maestri some slack for the shocking loss of his partner Egger. As an American that has spent a lot of time in Chaltén and understands the “Maldito Yanquee Imperialista” view of Norte Americanos in most of South America the mob scene there is no surprise. Americans have no business being the moral police of the world. The book was titled “The Freedom of the Hills” not “The Righteousness of the Hills”. For me, the overriding idea of Alpinisim is to get out in the mountains and escape all the cultural B.S. and leave the baggage behind… I think this whole thing exposes the cultural divide between elites and commoners in the world and how it has crept into even the places where the entire goal was to leave all distinctions behind and live in the moment in present company. I won’t bother to elaborate on cultural and and national tensions. Hayden is obviously a brilliant mind and this is the most inspiring shit I have heard in a long time. Kudos to Chris for a great interview, but I think he may be a bit naive as well if he is surprised by the decline of the climbing civilization and culture, and again I cite elitism… I’m disheartened by the “sponsorship over sportsmanship” attitude that exists nowadays and Hayden sounds like a beacon of hope for the human spirit in a world of commercialism. After hearing Hayden speak about their party’s motives I feel I owe an apology for earlier comments and/or criticism about their actions. This is a young man with the talent and intellect to really bring things back into balance. Great story any way you look at it! Looking forward to Part II!

    1. Clay,

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment. We actually address many of the things you bring up in part 2. I’d love to hear back from you when you listen to that one. I think you will be further impressed with Hayden.

      As to Jason (and Hayden’s) statement, I agree that now it seems rather righteous and stilted. I agree that it was probably something of a pushback with elbows out, if you know what I mean.


    2. Imagine if South Americans or Europeans flew out to South Dakota and defaced Mt. Rushmore in an act of resistance against defacing nature (permanently) in order to flaunt patriotism. Our first thoughts might be “what right do these foreigners have to come into our country and desecrate an American national landmark in the name of their own personal ethics and beliefs. If you let every individual apply their own ethics in circumstances where there is no agreement as to what the ethics should be, especially when done in a foreign country, then where do we draw the line.? Maybe people who dont believe that animals should be held in captivity have the right to sneak into zoos and free the animals. It seems like a very self righteous and poorly reasoned act by Kennedy and Kruk. From listening to Kennedy he seems like a thoughtful guy who just made a bad decision. He was only about 22 when he did it so slack is granted.
      Best podcast I’ve heard since John Long was interviewed by some guys re: “The Stonemasters” book several years ago.

  4. excellent interview. This is the type of media that is often lacking in the climbing world. keep it up!

  5. Dude that was AWESOME! I have been spreading the good word for you. Can I be your friend? At least on Facebook? And do you have dirty socks i could of yours???


    1. Dear Dan,
      “I have been and always shall be…your friend.” Name that movie, tough guy! (I know this is child’s play for the likes of you, DG)


  6. PS–Loved the “being used like a slippery knee bar” image in the introduction!

  7. This episode sets a new high bar. Better than anything I’ve read or heard around the campfire regarding the Cerro Torre controversy. If the naysayers took the time to listen to Kennedy, I’d wager the majority of them might reconsider their vitriol and ire. Really good questions and insight from Chris as well. Looking forward to the second part.

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