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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
EXPLORE PAST EPISODES
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