The Firn Line

Persistence: Steve Swenson

Episode Summary

An in-depth conversation with North American alpinist, Steve Swenson

Episode Notes

On today’s episode of The Firn Line, we’ll get to know legendary North American alpinist, Steve Swenson.  

Over the course of a climbing career that has spanned a remarkable 50 years, Steve has left a lasting imprint on the world stage of alpinism, from his roots in the Pacific Northwest, all the way to the 7 and 8,000 meter giants of the Himalaya, and the Pakistani Karakoram.

His early climbs in the Canadian Rockies, which included an astounding list of classic north faces in the 1970’s, set the stage for other first ascents in Alaska and beyond.

But it was Steve’s love for the greater ranges, specifically the Karakoram, that became the biggest alpine pull in his life.  Starting with a number of attempts in the early 80’s on Gasherbrum IV, Steve continually refined his style, and partnerships, to make ascents of giants like K2, Everest, and most-recently, one of the highest unclimbed mountains in the world - Link Sar.

I recently got a chance to speak with Steve about his enduring alpine career.  We talked about his early climbs as a youngster growing up in the Pacific Northwest, as well as his new book, Karakoram: Climbing Through the Kashmir Conflict, which was released in 2017 by Mountaineers Books.  

We started out by talking about Steve’s inspirations as a kid - and although he didn’t grow up in a particularly adventurous family, it was his curiosity at the local library, that would pique his interest, and set the stage for a life of exploration, and adventure.

Music by Evan Phillips

Steve Swenson (Book)
Link Sar (Rock & Ice)
The Firn Line (Website)

Alaska Rock Gym
The Hoarding Marmot
Declination Roasting