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 107 of the Enormocast, I sit down in an office in Carbondale with expedition climber, explorer, and super-dad, Mike Libecki. Mike was once just a Yosemite climbing- bum like so many before him, but then he found expedition climbing and his fate was sealed. 60+ expeditions later and first ascents in far-flung locals such as Baffin Island, Greenland, Madagascar, and Afghanistan, Mike is still going strong and pulling his daughter along with him in his life of exploration. 100 expeditions are his goal, and after that? More trips, we suppose. “Never ration passion!” is Mike’s saying du jour, and he lives that every damn day.