[Photo] Giulio Malfer

Reginald Munger Sullivan "Eric" Bjornstad

Posted on: March 1, 2005

When I was a little boy, I climbed everything in sight. My passion for climbing grew as I did. While a teenager in Bishop, California, I scrambled to high lakes to fish for golden trout. In the mid-1950s I moved to Berkeley and began spelunking. Then in 1959 I arrived in Seattle, Washington, and met people who climbed above ground. There, my passion drove me to extremes. I spent all my free money on climbing books and averaged four days a week in the mountains. With Ed Cooper and Don Claunch Gorden, I made many first ascents. In 1960 Fred Beckey became my steady partner, and we continued climbing in Alaska, Canada, Mexico, and throughout the US.

This passion to climb has lasted for myriad reasons: the justification to travel to new places; the ability to step into another world with complex problems and close friends; the opportunity to think up names for my first ascents; the guidebook writing that has introduced me to all the famous climbers I'd read about; the romance of climbing tales, nomenclature, paraphernalia and spectacular photos; the sense of living close to the edge where I feel most alive; the foreboding the night before a difficult, unknown ascent; the rush of flying onto a glacier in a ski-equipped plane; the feeling of working out dancelike movements on routes where others have failed or died; the exhaustion at the day's end; the climbing horror stories that even Halloween tales could not match; and the lifelong memories of adventures. Without this passion, how impoverished my life would have been!

Eric Bjornstad: curriculum vitae

1959: The Tooth (5.6), Cascasdes, Washington, first rock climb. Mt. St. Helens (9,677'), Cascades, Washing- ton, winter ascent. Century Route (5.8, 175'), Castle Rock, Tumwater Canyon, Washington, first ascent, with Ed Cooper.

1960: Tumwater Canyon, Washington, numerous first ascents. North Face (IV 5.3 55 degrees, 750'), Mt. Howser (11,195'), Bugaboos, British Columbia, Canada, first ascent, with Ed Cooper. Mt. Index (5,991'), Mt. Boston (8,894') and Sahale Peak (8,680'), Cascades, Washington, first winter ascents. Crater Headwall (5.9, 1,000'), Mt. Hood (11,235'), Oregon, first ascent.

1961: East Face (VI 5.9 A2, 2,500'), Mt. Index Middle Peak (5,493'), Cascades, Washington, first ascent, with Ed Cooper. Teaches advanced rock climbing with Seattle Mountaineers.

1961-1967: Seattle Mountain Rescue, member.

1962: Spectator Overhang (5.9), Castle Rock, Tumwater Canyon, first ascent (televised), with Guido Magnone. Son Eigerwand Bjornstad born. Opens first of six coffeehouses, the Coffeehaus Eigerwand, in Seattle's University district.

1963: Daughter Heather born. Northeast Buttress (V 5.9+, 3,000'), Mount Slesse (8,002'), Cascades, Washington, first ascent, with Fred Beckey and Steve Marts.

1964: West Ridge (V AI4, 700m), The Mooses Tooth (to West Summit, 9,780'), Alaska Range, Alaska, second ascent, with Fred Beckey.

1965: Publishes guide to the Leavenworth rock climbing areas, with Fred Beckey.

1966: Echo Tower (5.9 A2+, 550'), Fisher Towers, Utah, first ascent, with Fred Beckey and Harvey T. Carter.

1967: Zodiac Wall (VI 5.9 A3, 1,600'), Squamish Chief, Canada, first ascent, with Fred Beckey, Alex Bertulis and Leif Patterson. The Pulpit (5.5 C1), Zion, Utah, first ascent, with Fred Beckey, Galen Rowell and Pat Callis. Middle Sister (IV 5.7 A3), Monument Valley, Arizona, first ascent, with Fred Beckey, Harvey T. Carter and Pat Callis. Sextant (IV 5.9 A2), Shiprock, New Mexico, first ascent, with Fred Beckey, Harvey T. Carter and Don Liska. El Matador (IV 5.7 A3), Devils Tower, Wyoming, first ascent, with Fred Beckey.

1970: South Face (V 5.9, 2,000'), Lone Pine Peak (12,944'), Sierra Nevada, California, first ascent, with Fred Beckey.

1974: First ascents of towers in the Colorado Plateau (with various partners): Bootleg Tower; North Tower; Sewing Machine Needle; Window Route, Echo Pinnacle.

1975: Daughter Mara born. Film work: The Eiger Sanction; Against A Crooked Sky.

1975-1985: Studies lung health for Harvard University School of Public Health.

1977: Snowbird Peak and Mt. Cheops, Chigmit Mountains, Alaska, first ascents, with Fred Beckey and Craig Martinson.

1981: Banshee Tower (5.10 A2), Starbird Range, Canada, first ascent, with Fred Beckey.

1983: Southeast Face (IV 5.10), Ibex- Chamois Peak, new route, and Mt. Lees (9,915') Southern Purcells, Canada, first ascent. Both with Fred Beckey and Sam Striebert.

1984: Southwest Face (V 5.9 A2), East Peak (10,600'), The Gothics, Selkirks, B.C., Canada, first ascent, with Fred Beckey and Jan Schwarzburg.

1985: El Trono Blanco (IV 5.10, 1,000'), Baja, California, first ascent, with Ed Ward, Mar Motes and Fred Beckey. First ascents in the Moab, Utah, area: Merrimac Butte, with John Bouchard and Jimmy Dunn; Rhino Horn, with Tony Valdes and Bego Gerhart.

1988-2003: Publishes guidebooks to climbs of the desert southwest: Desert Rock (1988); Desert Rock: Rock Climbs in the National Parks (1996); Desert Rock: Wall Street to the San Rafael Swell (1997); Desert Rock III: Moab to Colorado National Monument (1999); Desert Rock IV: The Colorado Plateau Backcountry: Utah (2003)

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