Mugs Stump climbing the Eyetooth, AK

Mugs Stump climbing the Eyetooth, AK


Well it is official, the Pirate Valley has been selected to receive support from the prestigious Mugs Stump Award. Yahoo!!

Hot Flashes Climbing Magazine

January 13, 2009: The recipients of the 2009 Mugs Stump Award were announced at the Ouray Ice Festival the night of Saturday, January 10, in Ouray, Colorado. The awards, sponsored byBlack Diamond EquipmentClimbingMagazineMountain Gear,PatagoniaPrimaLoft, andW.L. Gore, were created in 1992 in memory of Mugs Stump, one of North America’s most visionary climbers. The award annually grants $30,000 to small teams pursuing climbing objectives that exemplify light, fast, and clean alpinism. The seven recipients for 2009 were announced after a presentation by previous Mugs Stump Award winner Max Turgeon. Organizers showed a film about Stump on a loop, followed by an introduction by Dan Cauthorn, of W.L. Gore, who then handed the mic to Conrad Anker, to give some personal remarks about Stump and announce the winners. The applications received for 2009 included many strong teams with objectives in far-flung corners of the mountaineering world, from Patagonia, to Pakistan, to the Canadian Rockies, to Alaska. In the end, seven teams with outstanding talent and objectives were granted awards ranging from $1,500 to $9,500.

In 2004 I also received the Mugs Stump Award for an expedition to Chile were I was able to establish a route up the perviously unclimbed Avellano Towers . 

While the funds from the Grant are a huge help in making this trip possible, the award itself has a much deeper meaning for me. 27 years ago, when I was just 17 years old,  I had just roped up for my first technical rock climb and began consuming every book my suburban CT library had about rock climbing and mountaineering. For my 18th birthday my Aunt and Uncle gave me a subscription to a brand new magazine called Outside. The first issue feature an article called titled “The Dance of the Woo Li Masters”  which described the incredible first ascent of the East Face of the Moose’s Tooth located in the Ruth Gorge of AK by Jim Bridwell and Mugs Stump. At one point during the descent in sub zero blizzard conditions, Bridwell and Stump were forced to rappel off a single No. 3  stopper (a very small piece of climbing gear). It has been several decades since I have read the article, but my palms still sweat just thinking about it. Despite several attempts the dangerous committing line has never been repeated.

Mugs left his mark on the climbing world by attempting and completing many bold and fast ascents in Yosemite, Zion, the Canadian Rockies, Alaska, the Alps, the Himalaya and 1992 he was tragically killed in a crevasse fall while guiding on Denali. He was and still is one of my climbing heroes and an inspiration not only for his pure climbing style, but for choosing a way of life instead of having society choose one for him. 

Although I never met Mugs Stump, I now live in the city he called home and in a strange way feel his presence today.

Bridwell’s Outside Magazine article title drew upon the ideas presented by Gary Zukav in his “new age” quantum physics book book, “The Dancing Woo Li Masters.”

“Whatever he [the Master] does,” writes Zukav, ” he does it with the enthusiasm of doing it for the first time. This is the source of his unlimited energy.”

We hope to be able to tap into some of this energy in the Pirate Valley.