April 24th, 2009
In September, 2008, two good friends, Chad Kellogg and Dylan Johnson, went to China to attempt the SW Ridge of Siguniang. In October or November, just before I left for Cambodia, close friends gathered at my small apartment on Phinney Ridge to see their preliminary slideshow.
The story is a bit epic; it was Chad’s third attempt on the peak. First try: too much bad weather and a big-wall style attempt shut him and his partners down. Second try: after initial scouting was done on a new line, Chad learned his wife Lara had died climbing in Alaska. Shortly afterward, he was diagnosed with cancer.
Mental and physical healing consumed Chad over the next year. During that time, I had a chance to climb Mt. Rainier’s Ptarmigan Ridge with him and Dan Aylward to an emotional summit on Liberty Cap. Siguniang, I can only imagine, was much more so.
Chad and Dylan were successful, though it took them longer than they thought, leaving them without food for days and wandering the mountain’s upper slopes through the night looking for their descent route. In order to survive, they left thousands of dollars of climbing gear behind. Chad lost 20 lbs and Dylan 30 lbs of body mass. I have trouble imagining that much weight loss, even standing in the grocery story looking at 30 one-pound steaks in the cooler.
Listen to Chad Kellogg and Dylan Johnson talk about their experience in China on
Fitz Cahall’s Dirtbag Diaries
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