THE SHARP END

A podcast from Accidents in North American Climbing

Presented By Mammut

Each month, the Sharp End brings to life stories from the pages of Accidents in North American Climbing, the annual publication of the American Alpine Club (AAC). Host Ashley Saupe interviews the climbers and rescuers involved in life-threatening incidents and shares their lessons, helping all of us become safer climbers. Join the nearly 10,000 climbers who listen to the Sharp End every month by following along on iTunes, Soundcloud, Google Play or Stitcher.

Would you like to be interviewed for the Sharp End? Ashley is always looking for people with interesting stories to share. 

Accidents in North American Climbing is published each August and delivered free to AAC members (Join the AAC). Not a member? You can order the Accidents publication and/or get it on your Kindle.


MEET ASHLEY

Ashley Saupe, creator and host of the Sharp End podcast, grew up in Alaska and now she's a nomad climber, snowboarder, and surfer, moving with the seasons.

In the spring she dispatches for a heli-ski company, living in a bus heated by a woodstove, 35 miles outside of Haines, Alaska. During the summer, she’s an instructor, proctor, course director, and staff trainer for the Outward Bound School in Colorado and Alaska, “changing lives through challenge and discovery.” The rest of the year it’s all travel, climbing, snowboarding, and surfing, living mostly out of her van White Fang.

Ashley came to the AAC in November 2015 with her idea for the Sharp End podcast. As a longtime outdoor educator, she was already involved in accident prevention and was fascinated by the stories in Accidents in North American Climbing. And as someone who lives on the road, she craved high-quality audio for those endless drives.

“I read Accidents religiously, I love those books,” she says. “But you know, what I really appreciate more than a good book is a good conversation. I really love hearing my guests’ perspectives on a personal level. Other than the actual technical lessons I learn and share, I think the biggest thing is compassion and empathy. I mean, what some of these folks have had to deal with is mind-blowing.”

Share your own story: Email Ashley to get started.


EXPLORE RECENT EPISODES

ePISODE 17: THE SURVIVOR

In this special episode of the Sharp End, Ashley speaks with Ryan Montoya, a 23-year-old student who had the strength, skill, and fortitude to survive a terrible mountaineering accident on March 15, 2017. Just below the summit of 14,018-foot Pyramid Peak in Colorado, during a solo winter ascent, Montoya fell more than 1,500 feet down the remote east face, then made his way back toward the road over the next three days, despite serious injuries. We've given extra time to this episode to let Ryan tell his amazing story in full detail.

Find this episode at iTunes, Soundcloud, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Ryan Montoya

Ryan Montoya

Montoya's ascent route on Pyramid Peak.

Montoya's ascent route on Pyramid Peak.

The line of Montoya's fall down the east face of Pyramid. He had climbed the opposite side of the mountain.

The line of Montoya's fall down the east face of Pyramid. He had climbed the opposite side of the mountain.

Ryan Montoya's climbing helmet.

Ryan Montoya's climbing helmet.

Montoya's escape route after falling down the east face of Pyramid Peak. Despite his injuries, he eventually made his way back to the road where he had started.  

Montoya's escape route after falling down the east face of Pyramid Peak. Despite his injuries, he eventually made his way back to the road where he had started.  


ePISODE 16: THE RED GULLY

Experienced mountaineers Jen Staufer and Adam Vonnahme were descending 14,294-foot Crestone Peak in Colorado when Jen slipped on an unexpected patch of ice and careened about 150 feet down the Red Gully, sustaining multiple injuries. Right before the climb, Jen had told her friend Adam that she was 10 weeks pregnant. In this episode, Ashley chats with Jen and Adam about the climb, the accident, and the dramatic nighttime rescue that followed.

This incicdent was documented in the 2016 edition of Accidents in North American Climbing: publications.americanalpineclub.org/article…1214127. Find this episode at iTunes, Soundcloud, Google Play, and many other podcast services. 

Jen Staufer on the summit of Crestone Peak before the accident.

Jen Staufer on the summit of Crestone Peak before the accident.

Adam Vonnahe on top of Crestone Peak.

Adam Vonnahe on top of Crestone Peak.

Solid line shows the upper Red Gully descent to the point where Jen slipped on the snowfield. Arrow marks the point where she stopped sliding.

Solid line shows the upper Red Gully descent to the point where Jen slipped on the snowfield. Arrow marks the point where she stopped sliding.


ePISODE 15: WATER IN THE HOLE!

Skander Spies, a volunteer with Denali National Park's climbing rangers, had just headed out on patrol on the Kahiltna Glacier. Although they didn't know it yet, the rangers would record eleven separate crevasse falls that day. One of these was Skander's, and his incident was scarier than most. Spies landed in a deep pool of ice meltwater at the bottom of the slot, facing extreme risk of hypothermia as well as the usual difficulties of crevasse rescue. 

Listen to this episode on Soundcloud, iTunes, Google Play, and many other podcast platforms.

Skander Spies exits a crevasse in Denali National Park.

Skander Spies exits a crevasse in Denali National Park.

Spies warm and dry in southern Utah.

Spies warm and dry in southern Utah.


EPISODE 14: A RESCUER NEEDS A RESCUE

In this story from the mountains near Steamboat Springs, Colorado, a nighttime search for two lost skiers takes a dramatic turn when one of the rescuers is caught in an avalanche. Amazingly, the team from Routt County SAR not only bring their injured teammate home, they also bring out the lost skiers. Rescuer Jay Bowman, who badly broke his arm in the incident, talks with Ashley about what went wrong—and what went right! 

Listen to this episode on Soundcloud or find it at iTunes, Google Play, or Stitcher

Jay Bowman

Jay Bowman

Diagram of the slide that caught Jay Bowman

Diagram of the slide that caught Jay Bowman


EPISODE 13: TWO SCREWS, TWO ANKLES

Raf Andronowski is a highly skilled ice climber, photographer, and gear reviewer (thealpinestart.com) who lives in the Canadian Rockies. However, as we learn in this episode, even the most experienced climbers may have a lapse in judgment...with painful consequences!

Partway through Episode 13, Raf and Ashley discuss an informative blog post by the well-known ice climber Will Gadd. Here's the link.

Raf Andronowski waiting for help at the base of Carlsberg Column, outside Field, British Columbia.

Raf Andronowski waiting for help at the base of Carlsberg Column, outside Field, British Columbia.

Listen to this episode on Soundcloud, iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play. 

Medics attend to Andronowski's ankle before he is helicoptered to the hospital.

Medics attend to Andronowski's ankle before he is helicoptered to the hospital.


EPISODE 12: SHOCK IN JOSHUA TREE

On November 12, David Fogal had just finished a two-pitch climb outside of Joshua Tree National Park in California. From the top, he lowered his partner to a big ledge so she could walk off. He then decided to downclimb to the ledge without a belay. In this episode, David describes the accident that followed with remarkable self-awareness and good humor. David's brother has started a Go Fund Me account to help with medical bills for his long and difficult recovery. If you're inspired to contribute, check it out. 

David Fogal recovering in the hospital. 

David Fogal recovering in the hospital. 

Fogal climbing in Southern California. 

Fogal climbing in Southern California. 

Listen to the episode on Soundcloud


EPISODE 11: A SNAKE DIKE TRAGEDY

Around sunset on November 7, 2015, Angela Uys (26) was at an anchor partway up Snake Dike on Half Dome, preparing to rappel. Her tether system was not effectively clipped to the anchor, and when she weighted the system it failed. She fell approximately 500 feet to her death. In this episode, Ashley speaks with Yosemite climbing ranger Jesse McGahey, who responded to and investigated this tragedy.

Half Dome from the southwest, the face climbed by Snake Dike.

Half Dome from the southwest, the face climbed by Snake Dike.

Ranger Jesse McGahey at work in Yosemite Valley.

Ranger Jesse McGahey at work in Yosemite Valley.

Listen to this episode on Soundcloud or find it at iTunes or Stitcher. Read the original report on this incident in Accidents in North American Mountaineering 2016.  


EPISODE 10: THE 69th SUMMIT

Climber and backcountry skier Steven Lozano summited Mount St. Helens with a friend on a beautiful April day. Two climbers soon joined them on top, and one of them, who was making his 69th ascent of the mountain, asked Steven to take a photo of him with Mt. Rainier in the background. What happened next will be seared into Lozano's memory forever.

A photo from the U.S. Forest Service climbing webpage for Mount St. Helens, showing the cornice dangers along the crater rim.

A photo from the U.S. Forest Service climbing webpage for Mount St. Helens, showing the cornice dangers along the crater rim.

Sharp End guest Steven Lozano shows off his homemade recording studio.

Sharp End guest Steven Lozano shows off his homemade recording studio.

Steven Lozano (left) and Kurt Williams.

Steven Lozano (left) and Kurt Williams.

Joe Bohlig climbing in Ecuador.

Joe Bohlig climbing in Ecuador.

Listen to this episode on Soundcloud or find it at iTunesGoogle Play, or Stitcher. Read the original report on this incident in Accidents in North American Mountaineering 2011.  


EPISODE 9: EGO DANGERS

Felipe Proaño, a North Face climber and native of Ecuador, took a long fall off Black Elk, a classic 5.11 climb in Wyoming's Wind River Range, and nearly left a finger behind. Felipe tells Ashley how his desire to be a "badass" backfired, with painful results.

Felipe Proaño leading the crux pitch of Black Elk (5.11a) on Warbonnet in the Wind Rivers, right before his fall.

Felipe Proaño leading the crux pitch of Black Elk (5.11a) on Warbonnet in the Wind Rivers, right before his fall.

Felipe displays his bloody pinkie before retreating from Warbonnet Peak in Wyoming.

Felipe displays his bloody pinkie before retreating from Warbonnet Peak in Wyoming.

Listen to this episode on Soundcloud or find it at iTunes, Google Play, or Stitcher.

Follow Felipe Proãno on Facebook


EPISODE 8: FALLING WAY TOO FAR

Alina and Ben planned to climb the Braille Book in Yosemite Valley. Alina had been climbing for a decade; Ben was a beginner. When Alina slipped at the start of the third pitch, she fell much, much further than expected and suffered a serious spinal injury. In this episode, Ashley talks to both climbers about what went wrong that day and how Alina is recovering from her accident.

Alina’s helmet likely saved her from a serious head injury during her  fall in Yosemite Valley. Photo courtesy of SmallRestlessHuman.com

Alina’s helmet likely saved her from a serious head injury during her  fall in Yosemite Valley. Photo courtesy of SmallRestlessHuman.com

Alina on the road to recovery. Photo courtesy of SmallRestlessHuman.com.

Alina on the road to recovery. Photo courtesy of SmallRestlessHuman.com.

Listen to this episode on Soundcloud or iTunes and read Alina's blog about her recovery. 


EPISODE 7: HANGING BY A THREAD

Three experienced climbers were enjoying a warm winter outing in Utah's Little Cottonwood Canyon when rockfall destroyed their belay anchor. Ashley talks with climbing guide Carl Dec about how some good anchor-building decisions saved their lives. 

Rockfall in Little Cottonwood Canyon smashed this belay anchor when two climbers were attached to it and a leader was above. Building a master point with independent, extension-limited arms of the sling likely saved the climbers’ lives. Photo by Carl Dec.

Rockfall in Little Cottonwood Canyon smashed this belay anchor when two climbers were attached to it and a leader was above. Building a master point with independent, extension-limited arms of the sling likely saved the climbers’ lives. Photo by Carl Dec.

Listen to this episode on Soundcloud or iTunes, or read the full report in Accidents in North American Climbing


EXPLORE PAST EPISODES

Click on the photos to listen to previous episodes!