AAC Backs Four Bold Expeditions With Spitzer Awards

The west face of Gasherbrum IV in Pakistan.

The west face of Gasherbrum IV in Pakistan. Photo by Florian Ederer / Wikipedia.

The American Alpine Club is supporting four planned expeditions to Asia's high peaks with its prestigious Lyman Spitzer Cutting Edge Award. The four award winners for 2014 are:

• Kyle Dempster, Urban Novak, and Hayden Kennedy will attempt a new route up the right side of Gasherbrum IV's "Shining Wall." The 7,925-meter (26,000-foot) peak in the Baltoro region of the Karakoram has only been climbed a few times, and only once by its west face, when a Korean team sieged the wall in 1997. In 1985, Wojciech Kurtyka and Robert Schauer made a harrowing alpine-style ascent of the 3,000-meter face but could not reach the true summit.

•  Allan Rousseau and Tino Villanueva will attempt the second ascent of 6,938-meter (22,762') Tengi Ragi Tau in Nepal by its unclimbed west face, a 1,600-meter wall. The peak was first climbed in 2002 by a Japanese-Nepalese team via the southeast face.

• Also in Nepal, Scott Adamson and Chris Wright will attempt the first ascent of the direct north pillar of Teng Kangpoche (6,500 meters/21,325'). Although the faces on either side of the pillar have been climbed, the 6,000-foot ridge itself has not seen success. This past fall, Adamson and Wright did the first ascents of two peaks in Nepal, and in April they climbed a new route on the east face of the Moose's Tooth in Alaska.

• In northern India, meanwhile, Tim Dittmann, Seth Timpano, and Jared Vilhauer will try the first ascent of 20,800-foot (6,340m) Barnaj II. The peak was attempted several times in the late 1970s and early ’80s, and the south summit was reached, but the highest peak remains unclimbed. The three men will try the previously unattempted north face.

“It feels like every year I comment about the applicant quality, and how difficult it was to select our winners,” said Paul Gagner, chair of the Spitzer Awards committee. “This year all I can say is, ‘Wow.’ We had an incredible pool to pull from, with some very bold and inspiring objectives. On behalf of the committee, which also includes Jack Tackle and Jared Ogden, I’d like to congratulate all of the winners, and wish them safe and successful climbs."

The AAC offers numerous grants with differing criteria, from the high-end Spitzer Awards to locally administered Live Your Dream grants for average climbers and  Mountain Fellowship grants for climbers under the age of 25. Click here for a full list of AAC grants and more information.

Sources: American Alpine Club, publications.americanalpineclub.org