Freddie Wilkinson Pro BlogsStraight outta New Hampshire comes one of the mountain world’s top talents, Freddie Wilkinson, with some Yankee wit and a damned funny take on the life of a traveling alpinist.
Wilkinson – Pro Blog 7If being an alpine paparazzi is your thing, it’s hard to beat hanging out at basecamp on the Southeast fork of the Kahilitna glacier in Alaska. The SE fork is the starting point for virtually all ascents of the Alaska Range’s big three: Denali, Mount Foraker, and Mount Hunter. On a busy evening in mid-May, one finds plane loads of guided West Buttress expeditions with their matching tents, private groups of gumbies trying to figure out how to light their stoves, and brooding alpinists sulking around “waiting for the forecast to improve”.Wilkinson – Pro Blog 6As with so many facets of alpine climbing, our decision to try Mahindra came down to a question of logistics. Our gear was already stashed up on the Dali Glacier, and I’d be damned if I were going to hike up there, retrieve the kit, and go around to another glacier. Mahindra it would be.Wilkinson – Pro Blog 5You know how it goes: most of the time, we alpinists don’t think with our heads. Such was my initial reaction on seeing pictures of the Jangpar Glacier. Every alpinist knows that fate will only deal him a few special summits in his career. And Peak 5960, with its clean lines and elegant symmetry, a classic alpine pyramid complete with a stylish fault of white quartzite streaking across its north face, was damn near perfect.Wilkinson – Pro Blog 4One might describe expedition climbing as a long, multi-week adventure travel experience with the goal of safely conveying yourself, your partners, and several very heavy duffle bags of climbing gear in good health to a remote mountain basecamp, then turning around and reversing the entire trip, with a short climb sandwiched in the between.Wilkinson – Pro Blog 3Twice a year my phone will ring in the middle of the night. Usually it’s winter and I’m very warm and cozy sleeping next to my girlfriend. I’ll roll over (inadvertently elbowing Janet in the process) and try to pretend that the phone isn’t ringing before finally relenting and answering the damn thing.Wilkinson – Pro Blog 2Outside the cafe, plumb raindrops bounced on the Rue De Pacard. We were, of course, in Chamonix: crown jewel of the French Alps, birthplace of alpine climbing, the world headquarters for all things extreme. One might confuse the scene — the arrogant locals, the wet cobblestone streets crowded with patisseries, cafés and lingerie shops — with any ordinary European city in March.Wilkinson – Pro Blog 1Don’t get me wrong, I’m a New Englander, and rules are important to me. They got us through those first tough winters after the Mayflower dropped us off in Plymouth; they’re what get us through tough times today, like when another priest from Boston comes out of the closet or the Patriots have a losing season.