As part of our Five Years of First Ascent celebration, we are revisiting the top 10 expeditions, out of 53 total, tackled by our guide team in the past five years. Ben Stookesberry and Chris Korbulic have logged more than 60 first descents around the globe and each one of their expeditions has resonated with a high degree of remoteness and a high degree of difficulty. But the one that stands apart on the expedition-of-magnitude scale is this past summer’s mission to the remote reaches of Northern Labrador, to paddle the historic George River canoe route, tick the second descent of the Ford River and to claim the first no-portage descent of the 18 waterfalls of the Nachvak River.
“We accessed one of the truly remote stretches of whitewater on earth,” Ben Stookesberry recounted, “We survived the most hellacious onslaught of flies and mosquitos. We treaded lightly in a land I hope will never bear the imprint of modernity. Most importantly, we did it as a team, one of the finest groups I have ever been a part of.” Deep into the polar bear entrenched wild, Stookesberry continued, “There are few rivers where you can paddle for three weeks without seeing any signs of civilization. The bears, caribou, falcons, river otters, beavers, and seagulls are all part of this vast wilderness only 1,000 miles north of New York City.”
In one of the most heavily documented First Ascent expeditions with DeLorme InReach and sat phone connectivity from the wilderness, the team captured the entire journey with audio dispatches via Soundcloud, expansive images, eight field reports written by Stookesberry and real time tracking of their progress via sat gram. It was indeed an epic worthy of the term. Read the first installment at http://blog.eddiebauer.com/2014/07/22/destination-torngat-launches-dispatches-labrador-wilderness/ or listen to the Soundcloud dispatches @eddiebauer on Soundcloud. —LYA Editor
Five years ago we had a mission: draw on our brand’s heritage of technical innovation and alpine exploration to launch Eddie Bauer First Ascent and set a new standard for gear in the alpine realm. Five years after First Ascent launched, our record speaks volumes: 13 industry best-in-class awards, 53 pioneering testing expeditions, and a series of innovative technical gear that has enabled personal adventures, big and small, around the globe. For the month of November we’ll be profiling the First Ascent effort on Instagram, on the Live Your Adventure blog, at eddiebauer.com and with our YouTube playlist. Check back daily for guide-built, expedition tested and award winning product stories behind the making of First Ascent.Comments (0)
Named National Geographic Adventurer of the Year in 2007, Ben Stookesberry has run some of the world’s most remote rivers, from Bhutan and Brazil to Greenland and Africa. His personal tally tops 60 first descents for rivers, sections of rivers and waterfalls, but it’s the geographic remoteness of his explorations that have notched him an impressive resume in the world of global adventure. Ben has been part of the First Ascent effort since the early days and his expedition drive has made him an ideal candidate for putting our expedition gear to the ultimate test. He’s also an aspiring filmmaker with award-winning festival films Kadoma and Walled In to his credit, as well as an upcoming cinematic saga that will chronicle their Destination Torngat epic to the remote reached of Northern Labrador. As part of our Five Years of First Ascent celebration sat down with him to get his take on the significance of First Ascent hitting the five year mark and perspective on the Guide Built process.
Celebrating Five Years of First Ascent wouldn’t feel right without a recap of our favorite expeditions. We’ve chosen the top 10 of 53 guide team adventures to highlight, and big-wall free climber Mason Earle’s trip to Ua Pou in the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia with little information and no guidebook couldn’t be left out. From jungle base camps at an off-the-grid compound, brutal sufferfests, and a towering first ascent on Montutuake, every step of the way thrilled.
With 53 stories and galleries to choose from, picking the top 10 trips from the past five years of First Ascent was no easy task. But one late arriving entry made the final cut—Erik Leidecker and Mason Earle’s Bugaboo Classics trip. The story is a good one, the climbing was impressive and the history of the area all converged to elevate it above the expedition competition. As a short summary, the climbers heli-approached into to this pristine area to tackle alpine classics like the Beckey-Chouinard route on South Houser Tower, the NE Ridge of Bugaboo Spire and Mason’s probable first free ascent of the Gar Wall.
From Utah cracks to Patagonian faces, big-wall free climber Mason Earle has tallied an impressive tick list of accomplishments in remote locations. From brutally steep multi-day first ascents to big-wall speed records, Earle has made a name as rising trad climber with vision in locations from Yosemite and Moab to the remote jungles of Venezuela and French Polynesia.
We caught up with Mason in Moab this past spring, while he was working on his secret desert project, playing some classical banjo and living in his kitted-out Sprinter van. Although Mason is a newer addition to the Eddie Bauer First Ascent team, his contributions on the expedition side have already been extensive with impressive big-wall trips to Ua Pou, the Cirque of the Unclimbables, Moonlight Buttress and the Bugaboos. Rather than ask him to recount each trip in epic detail, we asked him how these expeditions and these experiences are reflected in the Guide Built process. This is what the First Ascent rock star had to say. —LYA Editor
Five years after our First Ascent line launched, our record of achievement speaks volumes. Thirteen industry best-in-class awards, 53 pioneering expeditions and a series of innovative technical gear that has earned widespread respect in a critical outdoor world by proving itself at the extremes.
Our top 10 (out of 53) expeditions are taking center stage in the celebration of Five Years of First Ascent. Although it was tough to make the cut, Tom Wayes, Reggie Crist, Wyatt Caldwell, Chris Coulter, Kent McBride, and Erik Leidecker made it easily with their epic season in Haines, Alaska in 2011. We loved this guide adventure for the steep line slays and first descents—including the now famous toe-in line on Bell Ringer—that seemed to follow them everywhere.
“Haines, Alaska, represents the frontier of big mountain heli skiing,” Reggie Crist wrote, “—a unique and rugged region sheltered by the highest coastal mountains in the world, that special locale attracting the world’s best skiers and snowboarders attempting legendary first descents.” He remembered, “Photographer and good friend, Will Wissman says: “A bad day in Haines is still potentially the best day of the season.”
Snapping heart-pounding photos and writing the fully expedition story, Wyatt Caldwell’s blog post is worth the view at http://blog.eddiebauer.com/2011/05/06/wyatt-caldwell-rides-with-the-first-ascent-seaba-crew-in-haines-ak/. Watch the recap of epic slays in the Expedition Rewind video below.
Five years ago we had a mission: draw on our brand’s heritage of technical innovation and alpine exploration to launch Eddie Bauer First Ascent and set a new standard for gear in the alpine realm. Five years after First Ascent launched, our record speaks volumes: 13 industry best-in-class awards, 53 pioneering testing expeditions, and a series of innovative technical gear that has enabled personal adventures, big and small, around the globe. For the next three weeks we’ll be profiling the First Ascent effort on Instagram, on the Live Your Adventure blog, at eddiebauer.com and with our YouTube playlist. Check back daily for guide-built, expedition tested and award winning product stories behind the making of First Ascent.Comments (0)