On Episode 129 of the Enormocast, I sit down with consummate alpinist, Steve Swensen. Steve’s career in the big mountains has spanned decades. As a kid, Steve dreamed of flying to the stars as an Apollo astronaut, but he chose to climb as close to space as possible instead. While he has climbed worldwide, his most memorable and mesmerizing locale is the Karakorum on the borders of Pakistan, China, and India. In his new book Karakorum: Climbing through the Kashmir Conflict, Steve recounts his years exploring the mountains of this formerly closed region and falling in love with its people but also watching the waves of conflict ebb and flow in the surrounding lands. Steve spent 40 years balancing on the three pillars of his radical life: climbing, career, and family, and somehow he is as stoked as ever to be in the mountains and pushing his mind and body to the highest reaches of the Earth.
On Episode 118, I sit down with consummate mountain man, Conrad Anker. Recorded before his recent brush with the reaper (see below), Conrad was already all too familiar with tragedy in the mountains. A protégé of the late Mugs Stump, and goto partner of the fallen Alex Lowe, Conrad has been through the dark valley more than once in his climbing career. He has managed to emerge not just alive, but with a storied career as a climber, climbing mentor, and climbing professional. Somewhat reluctantly moving into middle age, Conrad will never stop pushing his limits in the mountains, even when they push back.
On Episode 97 of the Enormocast, I sit down in a limping Mobile Studio with alpinist, and all-around climber, Jay Smith. Jay and I get through his discomfort to talk about his early climbing, his vast motivation for first ascents, rigging, and best partners. Jay may or may not have sanctioned himself Clint-Eastwood-style by revealing classified intel about Navy Seal training. Jay is more at home freezing on a Himalayan peak than talking about himself, but his personality shines through in this hour in the Mobile Studio.