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2016 Lyman Spitzer Cutting Edge Award Winners Announced

Posted on: January 9, 2016


This year, Rob Duncan, Jesse Mease and Marcos Costa were awarded the Lyman Spitzer Cutting Edge Award to climb the much tried peak Link Sar (7041m), highlighted in the distance. The peak has been attempted nearly half-a-dozen times since 1974, without success, most recently by Andy Houseman and Jon Griffith, who reached Link Sar's West Summit. [Photo] Wiki Commons/Rupert Pupkin [Photo] Wiki Commons/Rupert Pupkin

On January 4, The American Alpine Club (AAC) announced the recipients of the 2016 Lyman Spitzer Cutting Edge Awards. For sixteen years, this grant has supported eighty-six small expeditions climbing in "unexplored mountain ranges, unclimbed peaks, difficult new routes, first free ascents, and similar cutting-edge climbing objectives," AAC Programs Manager Jeff Deikis said. This year, sixteen applications were submitted and awards were given, for $6,000, to two teams. The grant is named after the astrophysicist and climber, Lyman Spitzer Jr. (1914-1997).

Team One

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Chris Wright and Tico Gangulee planned several objectives in the Kullu Himalaya of India, all of which are unclimbed. "We started with a totally blank slate," Wright told Alpinist, "and I poured through a lot of AAJ's and Himalayan Journals before I picked Stephen Venables and Andy Fanshawe's Himalaya Alpine Style and saw a picture of the Kullu that got me really intrigued." Wright looked into a pair of unclimbed 6000-meter peaks called the Shigrilas and another unnamed peak on the Tichu glacier. "I have a feeling we're going to see even more when we get there."

Team Two

Rob Duncan, Jesse Mease and Marcos Costa will travel to the Pakistani Karakoram for their primary objective: Link Sar, a 7041-meter summit located at the head of the Charakusa Glacier. Link Sar has seen multiple attempts including a Japanese party in 1979, a team that included George Lowe in 2001, and, most recently, by Jon Griffith and Andy Houseman, with a trip funded by the Mugs Stump Award, who attempted the peak four times since 2012. The team then plans to travel to the Choktoi Glacier and climb Ogre II (6960m) by its unclimbed Northeast Ridge. The route was attempted last year by Kyle Dempster and Scott Adamson, who were just shy of the summit when Adamson fell 100 feet and broke a leg. Nine hours later, while the team was retreating, their v-thread anchor failed and they tumbled for three hundred feet (and lived).

[Read Andy Houseman and Jon Griffith's recent attempt on Link Sar, where they reached its West Summit, in the NewsWire from August 11, 2015—Ed.]

Every year the AAC gives thirteen grants and awards that offer assistance for up-and-coming athletes, research, conservation of climbing locations, anchor replacement and hard, committing alpine routes.

Sources: alpinist.com, americanalpineclub.org, outdoorresearch.com, Jeff Deikis, Paul Gagner, Janet Miller, Chris Wright

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