The Cutting Edge
The Cutting Edge
The American Alpine Journal
The Cutting Edge presents in-depth interviews with the world's best climbers, just back from great new climbs. Presented by Hilleberg the Tentmaker (http://hilleberg.com), with additional support from Bivouac Coffee and Blue Ice. This podcast is produced by the editors of the American Alpine Journal.
Christian Black, Vitaliy Musiyenko and Hayden Wyatt: A First Ascent in India
For our final episode of the 2023 season, we’re heading to Kishtwar in northern India, an area of very dramatic granite peaks, most of which have only been climbed by one or two routes. One of these mountains is White Sapphire, a peak of 6,040 meters or just under 20,000 feet, that had only been climbed twice. Pete Takeda, the interviewer for this episode, had shared photos of an unclimbed big wall on White Sapphire with a young friend named Christian Black. In time, Christian recruited his friends Hayden Wyatt and Vitaliy Musiyenko as partners. They won a grant from the American Alpine Club, and in September they all headed to India. Two of the three climbers had never been to the Himalaya, and this interview captures their wide-eyed enthusiasm, as well as their ability to go with the flow—a critical element for success in the Greater Ranges. And success they had, with a challenging new route up White Sapphire from the north: Brilliant Blue (850m, AI3, 80°, M7+). The Cutting Edge is presented by Hilleberg the Tentmaker (hilleberg.com), with additional support from Blue Ice and Bivouac Coffee. This podcast is produced by the American Alpine Club.
Dec 28, 2023
56 min
Matt Cornell, Jackson Marvell and Alan Rousseau: Jannu North Face
On October 12, climbers Matt Cornell, Jackson Marvell and Alan Rousseau summited 7,710-meter Jannu, or Khumbakarna, by a new route up the north face, climbed in alpine style. Jannu’s main north face had only been climbed once, in 2004, by a 12-man team that spent nearly two months on the face and fixed over 10,000 feet of rope. The American trio carried a single lead rope and took only a modest rack and no bolt kit. Their route, Round Trip Ticket, was climbed and descended in one week. Years of preparation and innovation went into this remarkable ascent, and in this episode of the Cutting Edge, we're fortunate to hear all three climbers telling the story. The Cutting Edge is presented by Hilleberg the Tentmaker, with additional support from Bivouac Coffee and Blue Ice. This podcast is produced by the American Alpine Club.
Dec 3, 2023
56 min
Connor Herson and Fan Yang: 5.13+ on Mt. Whitney
In late September, Connor Herson and Fan Yang free climbed Hairline on the east face of Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the Lower 48. Hairline is a very steep, 13-pitch route originally climbed in 1987. The 55-meter crux pitch went at 5.13+ or 8b, at over 13,000 feet in elevation. The two other hard pitches go at 5.12 and 5.13-. Connor climbed 5.14c/8c+ at age 14 and became famous at 15 for free climbing the Nose of El Cap. He’s now 20 and a student at Stanford University. At age 36, Fan is also a 5.14 climber, and he’s an M.D., an engineer, and a researcher in the field of artificial intelligence applied to medicine. He first tried Hairline in 2019 (and freed the crux pitch), but COVID and then difficulty finding partners kept him off the route for several years. Connor and Fan had never really climbed together when they teamed up for Hairline, but their partnership clicked. After a couple of days of preparation on the route, they sent all the key pitches in one day with no falls. From their high point, they downclimbed the East Face Route to camp, then scrambled back up the next morning to finish the easy final pitches to the summit of Mt. Whitney. AAJ assistant editor Michael Levy interviewed the two about their climb.
Nov 20, 2023
36 min
Kazyua Hiraide and Kenro Nakajima: The Secret Line in the Hindu Kush
This episode is all about Tirich Mir in Pakistan’s High Hindu Kush. This past summer, two Japanese climbers completed an ascent of the secretive north face of this 7,708-meter mountain—an isolated wall that probably had never been attempted before. For the last decade, Kazuya Hiraide and Kenro Nakajima have formed one of the most successful partnerships in the world for lightweight, alpine-style new routes on high 7,000-meter peaks. Kazuya had dreamed of climbing Tirich Mir for more than 20 years, and the route they pieced together was a creative and committing solution to a very complex mountaineering problem. We'll also hear about their next goal: an audacious attempt on an alpine-style ascent of K2's west face. To introduce Tirich Mir and its long history, we spoke with AAJ senior editor Lindsay Griffin, an expert in the climbing history of the Greater Ranges. Among other things, we learn why a member of the first ascent party carried a huge rock to the summit! The Cutting Edge is presented by Hilleberg the Tentmaker, with additional support from Bivouac Coffee and Blue Ice. This podcast is hosted and produced by AAJ editor Dougald MacDonald and is published by the American Alpine Club.
Oct 31, 2023
51 min
Sarah McNair-Landry and Erik Boomer: Fun Hogs for the 21st Century
Sarah McNair-Landry and Erik Boomer only started climbing a few years ago, and their technical level maxes out around 5.11. Yet their extended, multi-sport expeditions all over Baffin Island are without a doubt cutting edge. This year, they made three separate trips: one for climbing, skiing, and kiting on Baffin Island’s remote east coast; one to explore a new zone of beautiful walls near Baffin’s southern tip; and a third to fulfill the dream that got them into climbing in the first place: climbing the mighty peak of Mt. Asgard. (They climbed it twice.) Chris Kalman spoke with Sarah and Erik about this year’s adventures and about their unique and enviable role in the modern exploration of Baffin Island. The Cutting Edge is presented by Hilleberg the Tentmaker, with additional support from Blue Ice and Bivouac Coffee. This podcast is hosted and produced by Dougald MacDonald, editor of the American Alpine Journal, and is published by the American Alpine Club.
Oct 16, 2023
53 min
The Cowboy Direct on Trango Tower: Jordan Cannon, Jesse Huey and Matt Segal
This summer, Matt Segal recruited his old friend Jesse Huey and an alpine newbie, Jordan Cannon, for an attempt on Trango Tower in Pakistan. And not just by any route: Segal dreamed of free climbing the unrepeated Cowboy Direct, first climbed way back in 1995. The El Cap–size wall route goes at 5.13a and summits at over 20,000 feet. The trio made a powerful combo: Matt, a solid 5.14 climber; Jesse, an all-around master; and Jordan, a big-wall free climbing ace. In this interview, led by Chris Kalman, the three climbers describe their 15-day final push on the route, the superb partnership they formed, and how they overcame obstacles of poor weather, lack of food, and surprisingly difficult alpine climbing near the summit to succeed with the second ascent of this legendary climb. The Cutting Edge podcast is presented by Hilleberg the Tentmaker (hilleberg.com), with additional support from Bivouac Coffee and Blue Ice. This podcast is produced by the American Alpine Club.
Sep 26, 2023
1 hr 11 min
Mark Richey and Will Carey: An Enormous Rock Climb in Africa
In July 2023, four climbers from New England—Will Carey, Taki Miyamoto, Ray Rice, and Mark Richey—completed what just might be the longest pure rock climb in Africa. Their 800-meter route climbs straight up the middle of the upper face of Chambe, a huge granite monolith in Malawi. For this episode, AAJ assistant editor Michael Levy (who climbed on Chambe himself for several weeks in July 2022) spoke with Will and Mark about their adventures. Although both climbers have done many new routes (Mark is a two-time Piolets d'Or winner for his first ascents in the Karakoram), ground-up bolting a huge, exotic rock face was an entirely new experience. The Cutting Edge is presented by Hilleberg the Tentmaker, with additional support from Bivouac Coffee. This podcast is produced by the American Alpine Club.
Aug 28, 2023
42 min
A Beautiful New Route on Mt. Huntington: Zac Colbran, Dane Steadman and Grant Stewart
Often described as one of the most beautiful mountains in North America, Mt. Huntington has been drawing top alpinists to the Alaska Range ever since the peak's first ascent in 1964, led by the great French climber Lionel Terray. In April 2023, Dane Steadman (USA), Zac Colbran and Grant Stewart (both from Canada) flew to the Tokositna Glacier for their own adventures. The three of them climbed a cool new route up the west face of Huntington, and two of them then made a second foray onto the west face, repeating a rarely climbed variation to the Harvard Route and freeing the classic Nose pitch. AAJ assistant editor Michael Levy interviewed all three climbers to get their story. The Cutting Edge podcast is produced by Hilleberg the Tentmaker, with additional support from Bivouac Coffee. This podcast is produced by the American Alpine Club.
Jul 26, 2023
45 min
Jackson Marvell: New Route on Mt. Dickey in Alaska
The Cutting Edge returns for season five with Jackson Marvell, a 27-year-old alpinist from Utah who just completed his second new route up the mile-high east face of Mt. Dickey in Alaska's Ruth Gorge. Along with Matt Cornell and Alan Rousseau, Jackson climbed the AI6 M6 X route, Aim for the Bushes, over three days in late March. The AAJ's Michael Levy spoke with Jackson to get all the details.
Jun 28, 2023
37 min
A Bold Way Down Denali: Cutting-Edge Ski Alpinism with Tiphaine Duperier
Tiphaine Duperier and Boris Langenstein from France have made first ski descents in many parts of Asia. But until 2022, Tiphaine had never been to North America. In May, she flew to Alaska with Boris to pursue a crazy dream: a ski descent of the Cassin Ridge on Denali. The two quickly realized this wouldn’t be possible (at least this year), but an alternate vision soon appeared: a ski line down the upper southwest face of Denali. On May 31, the two climbed to the summit and started down just to skier’s right of the upper Cassin. After descending about 1,000 meters, they made a long, terrifying traverse to join the West Rib route and continued down all the way to the Northeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier. The total descent was more than 3,800 meters. For this episode of the Cutting Edge, Tiphaine spoke with guest interviewer Brody Leven, a professional ski mountaineer himself, about the planning and execution of this bold descent.
Dec 29, 2022
56 min
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