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 more than 20,000 climbers who listen to the Sharp End by following along on iTunes, Soundcloud, Google Play or Stitcher. New episodes are shared the 1st of each month!

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. The Sharp End's "Play Hard & Be Smart" T-shirts are available here.

The Sharp End is presented by Mammut, with additional support from Colorado Outward Bound School and Vertical Medicine Resources. Additional sponsorship opportunities are available. Write to us for more information.


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 22: tHE THREE ESSENTIALS, LESSONS FROM A MOUNTAIN RANGER

Flight medic and Denali mountaineering ranger Dave Weber returns to the Sharp End to discuss the common themes he's heard in the first 20 episodes of this podcast. As he tells Ashley, there are three simple but profoundly effective lessons for preventing and surviving climbing accidents.

Find this episode at iTunes, Soundcloud, or wherever you listen to podcasts. You can hear Dave's previous appearance on the Sharp End (Ep. 4) here: The_sharp_end – Denali-ranger-dave-weber-a-day-in-the-life.

Mountaineering ranger Dave Weber (center) at work in Denali National Park. Photo by Menno Boermans.

Mountaineering ranger Dave Weber (center) at work in Denali National Park. Photo by Menno Boermans.


EPISODE 21: UPSIDE DOWN ON HUMMINGBIRD SPIRE

Craig Gorder, 28, and Kelsey Brasseur were attempting to climb all seven towers of the Bridger Jack formation in Utah in a single day. In midafternoon, as Craig started up the second pitch of Hummingbird Spire, their fifth tower of the day, he pulled off a huge sandstone block that crushed his body and cut his rope, leaving him dangling below Kelsey. In this episode, Craig describes the accident and the incredible rescue that followed.

Read Craig's story about this incident in the 2017 edition of Accidents in North American Climbing. Find this episode at iTunes, Soundcloud, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Craig Gorder climbing in Indian Creek Canyon, Utah.

Craig Gorder climbing in Indian Creek Canyon, Utah.

Hummingbird Spire on the Bridger Jack formation. The accident was in the notch to the right. Photo by Brad Brandewie.

Hummingbird Spire on the Bridger Jack formation. The accident was in the notch to the right. Photo by Brad Brandewie.

Gorder in the hospital with the dented helmet that he believes saved his life or prevented a serious head injury.

Gorder in the hospital with the dented helmet that he believes saved his life or prevented a serious head injury.


EPISODE 20: 140-FOOT FALL IN ELDORADO CANYON

Bill Wright and Tom Karpeichik were attempting a bold challenge in Colorado's Eldorado Canyon: Climb 100 guidebook pitches in a single day. To cover all that ground, they planned to simul-climb most of the way. Early that morning, four pitches up a 5.8+ route, Tom broke a hold on 5.5 or 5.6 terrain and fell, 50 feet above his last piece of protection. In this episode, Wright describes the monster, unbelayed fall that followed, how they both survived, and the lessons he took home.

Read the original Accidents in North American Climbing report: publications.americanalpineclub.org/article…te-Park. Find this episode at iTunes, Soundcloud, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Bill Wright scrambling in Boulder Colorado's Flatirons.

Bill Wright scrambling in Boulder Colorado's Flatirons.

Eldorado Canyon, Colorado. The accident occurred on Redgarden Wall (left).

Eldorado Canyon, Colorado. The accident occurred on Redgarden Wall (left).


EPISODE 19: GRAND TRAVERSE GONE BAD

Matt Olsen and Ty Guarino were attempting the Grand Traverse, a difficult linkup of the Tetons' seven central summits, with many miles of scrambling and technical climbing. Soon after leaving the summit of Teewinot, the first peak of the traverse, they had to make a couple of rappels into a notch. As he was rappelling, Guarino's rope pulled off a huge block that shattered around him. A chunk of rock hit him on the forehead and caused him to lose control of the rappel. Ashley speaks with the two men about the accident, their impressive self-rescue, and the lessons they learned.

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

Matt Olsen, left, and Ty Guarino on Teewinot, before the accident.

Matt Olsen, left, and Ty Guarino on Teewinot, before the accident.

Ty Guarino in the escape couloir.

Ty Guarino in the escape couloir.


EPISODE 18: EPIC IN YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

By late April, Marcus Mazzaferri had already hiked nearly 1,000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. He was just about to stop for the day near Tuolumne Meadows, high in Yosemite National Park, when he came across a swollen creek. He decided to cross it before setting up camp. What happened next left Marcus all alone, with no gear, 15 miles from the nearest road. His story will make you wonder: What would I have done?

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

Marcus at the start of the Pacific Crest Trail by the U.S.-Mexico border.

Marcus at the start of the Pacific Crest Trail by the U.S.-Mexico border.

 A much-anticipated breakfast after escaping the Yosemite backcountry.

 A much-anticipated breakfast after escaping the Yosemite backcountry.


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 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 recovering in the hospital. 

David recovering in the hospital. 

Climbing in Southern California. 

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.  


EXPLORE PAST EPISODES

Click on the photos to listen to previous episodes!

Send us your comments and story ideas at [email protected]!