Eddie Bauer Guide, Melissa Arnot, in partnership with Eddie Bauer, Microsoft and popchips, launched the 50 Peaks Challenge yesterday; a 50-day expedition in which she and Guide in Training, Maddie Miller, aim to summit all 50 highpoints in the U.S. With this challenge, the climbing duo aims to encourage mentorship and inspire people everywhere to live their adventure, even if it’s in their own backyard.
Words by Molly McWhinnie, Image by Jon Mancuso, Map by Gramwire
The challenge officially began on June 27 when Miller reached the summit of Denali, the highest mountain peak in Alaska and North America. Arnot mentored Miller and provided team support from afar while finalizing trip logistics for the remaining 49 summits ahead in the challenge.
Eddie Bauer climber Mason Earle is at home in the cosmic climbing vortex of Joshua Tree. With more than 9,000 known and slightly sandbagged routes on its characteristic monzogranite rock, a storied Stonemaster legacy of climbing lore, and an environment that is a mosaic of miniature worlds, it’s a dry rock location that has drawn climbers on seasonal pilgrimages for decades. Earle migrated south last fall with climbers Ben Ditto and Katie Lambert to tackle aesthetic boulder problems, classic trad routes and some sporty sport climbing—but he also dove deep into the distinct culture of the area to understand what makes the place so original, so unusual and so compelling. In our third season of the Insider’s Guide, Mason Earle gives us the local tour.
Last fall, Eddie Bauer climbers Mason Earle, Katie Lambert, and Ben Ditto journeyed to the sandbagged desert routes and super aesthetic problems of Joshua Tree. We ran a preview Gabe Rogel gallery of the trip a few months back, but this week we’re retelling all the stories of the trip, starting with this climbing ode to the Stonemasters of the past from Ben Ditto’s experience on an iconic J-Tree route called Father Figure (5.12d).
Last fall, Eddie Bauer climbers Mason Earle, Katie Lambert, and Ben Ditto migrated to the high desert venue of Joshua Tree to experience an iconic location in climbing lore. With a storied Stonemasters legacy, a lifetime of sandbagged routes, and a history as one of the places where the Yosemite Decimal System was honed, J Tree is a destination where climbers still travel on seasonal pilgrimages into an otherworldly zone. Katie Lambert experienced an even more personal form of pilgrimage, tracing her trip back to an album cover and a fascination with the eponymous vegetation that gives this unique desert climbing venue its name.
As the first American to summit all 14 of the 8,000-meter peaks without supplemental oxygen, Ed Viesturs is recognized as one of the greatest American mountaineers of all time. His connection to Everest and the Khumbu Valley also runs deep, with seven summits of the world’s tallest peak and 31 Himalayan expeditions to his credit. So when his son Gil expressed an interest in experiencing the Himalaya through a senior project installing portable solar panels in remote Sherpa villages, it was both a chance to visit old friends and a chance to see the place through fresh eyes. It is a powerful father-son story of marking time through the mountains, but Ed’s words tell the story best.
Earlier this week we ran the report from a goodwill mission to Kyrgyzstan that included Eddie Bauer skier Lexi duPont. The story was a powerful one and duPont kept a journal of her transformative experience. We’ve excerpted a few of her most reflective moments from the trip below.
This past winter, Eddie Bauer skier Lexi DuPont joined a goodwill mission to Central Asia spearheaded by globe-trotting splitboarder, dreamer, and documentary filmmaker Nayla Tawa to the landlocked but mountainous former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan. Donating fifteen hundred of pounds of ski gear, providing guide and rescue training, and connecting with the locals through basic ski and snowboard instruction, their crew landed deep in a cultural exchange between two very different snow sports cultures. The impact they made, and the connections they experienced, left both the locals and the visitors forever changed. In the story below, we excerpt duPont’s powerful journal entries from the journey and discover Tawa’s very personal motivation behind the Return to Krygyzstan expedition.