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BEYOND THE MOUNTAIN Steve House 2009 Hardcover DJ Fine
By House, Steve
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California, Patagonia Books, 2009, 1st edition. 288 pages, 81 color and b/w photos. Black cloth hardcover with dust jacket. Fine.

Winner of the 2009 Boardman Tasker Prize

What does it take to be one of the worlds best high-altitude mountain climbers? It takes raising funds for an expedition, negotiating some of the worlds most dangerous countries, suffering freezing-cold bivouacs and enduring the discomforts of high altitude. It also means learning the hard lessons the mountains teach. This book explores those lessons.
 
Dubbed by Reinhold Messner, 'The best high-altitude climber in the world today.' Steve House's story chronicles his experiences in the worlds highest mountains, each chapter revealing a different aspect of mountaineering. 

From the Patagonia.com website:

Reinhold Messner himself has called Steve 'The best high-altitude climber in the world today.' 'Being called the best,' says Steve, 'makes me very uncomfortable. My intention is to be as good as I can be. Mountaineering is too complex to be squeezed into a competition. It is simply not something that lends itself to comparison. Climbing is about process, not achievement. The moment your mind wanders away from the task of the climbing-at-hand will be the moment you fail.'
 
Steves most (in?)-famous ascent occurred in September 2005. He and Vince Anderson pioneered a direct new route on the Rupal Face of 8126-meter (26,660-foot) Nanga Parbat. The 4100-meter (13,500-foot) face had never before been climbed in alpine style. During Steves 2004 season in the Karakoram he raised the standards of alpine climbing with his solo ascent of K7 via a new route in 41:45 hours (with 26 hours of nonstop climbing to summit) using no fixed ropes, no bolts, and only a seven-pound pack. It was the mountains second ascent.


'Recently, I have had a lot of attention focused on my climbs of K7 and Nanga Parbat. But I spent a lot of time and a lot of passion pursuing climbs in the Alaska Range, the Canadian Rockies, and the European Alps. In many ways I am most proud of these ascents.'

These ascents include the first ascent of First Born on the Father and Sons Wall, a solo first ascent of Beauty is a Rare Thing, and Masciolis Pillar, all on Denali. In the nearby Ruth Gorge, Steve, Mark Twight, and Jonny Blitz climbed The Gift on Mt. Bradley and with Kevin Mahoney and Ben Gilmore he opened The Leisure Tour on the east face of the Mooses Tooth.

But perhaps his most impressive climbs in Alaska were the 60-hour non-stop ascent of the Slovak Direct route on Denalis South Face with Mark Twight and Scott Backes and the 25-hour ascent (plus 20-hour descent) of the Infinite Spur on Mount Foraker with Rolando Garriboti. Prior to these ascents, the fastest time for either climb was seven days.

Steve has been particularly prolific in the Canadian Rockies in recent years, having opened big new routes on many of the major faces in the range including: Robsons Emperor Face, the North Face of Mount Alberta, the North Face of North Twin, the East Face of Howse Peak, and the East Face of Mount Fay.

'The Alps are a touchstone for me, largely because of the history. I am on an informal quest to climb the six great north faces.' So far, hes done three: The Walker Spur on the Grande Jorasses (in winter), the 1938 route on the north face of the Petite Dru, and the 1937 Comici route on the north face of the Cima Grande in the Dolomites.

'Its intensely mind-opening to be up there on these routes that were climbed sixty plus years ago, to be trying as hard as you can, with all the technological advantages and safety we have now. You realize that were not any better. More equipped and more resourceful for sure, but better? I dont think so.'

'I have a long-held mission statement and that is to be the best climber I can be. Steve writes, 'But since working with Patagonia (since 1999) I would have to amend that. Be the best climber I can be, cause no unnecessary harm, and do my best to promote a business that inspires and implements solutions to the environmental crisis.'
 
A few notable achievements:

-A 26 hour ascent of Mount Foraker's Infinite Spur in Alaska, the previous fastest ascent was seven days.

-2003 The Talkeetna Standard, Eye Tooth, Alaska Range, Alaska, USA; FA V 5.9 WI5 1000m with Jeff Hollenbaugh

-2003 Roberts-Rowell-Ward Route, Mt. Dickey, Alaska Range, Alaska, USA; second ascent VI 5.9 A2 1675m with Jeff Hollenbaugh

-2004 Southwest Face, K7, Charakusa Valley, Karakorum, Pakistan (second ascent of the mountain, first ascent of route) (VI 5.10a M6 A2 80 degrees, 2400m), solo. For this ascent he won the People's Award for the 14th Piolet d'Or

-2005 Central Pillar of the Rupal Face, (4100m, M5 X, 5.9, WI4), September 1-8, on Nanga Parbat in northern Pakistan with Vince Anderson. Completed in a little over a week, the climb won him and Anderson the Piolet d'Or.

-2007 House-Haley (WI5 M7 1750m), Emperor Face, Mount Robson (3956m), Canadian Rockies, Alberta, Canada. FA of route with Colin Haley, May 25-27, 2007

-2007 K7 West (6858m), Charakusa Valley, Karakorum, Pakistan FA of peak with Vince Anderson and Marko Prezelj.[10]

-2008 House-Anderson (WI5+ M8 R/X, 1000m), North Face, Mount Alberta (3619m), Canadian Rockies, Alberta, Canada. FA of route with Vince Anderson, March 26-28, 2008

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