Conrad Anker’s specialty, simply put, is climbing the most technically challenging terrain in the world. This quest has taken him from the mountains of Alaska and Antarctica to the big walls of Patagonia and Baffin Island and the massive peaks of the Himalaya.
Always Above Us
Conrad’s Antarctic experience spans a decade, with first ascents in three regions. In 1997, Conrad teamed up with Alex Lowe and Jon Krakauer to climb Rakekniven, a 2,500-foot wall in Queen Maud Land. In the Sentinel Range, Conrad climbed the Vinson Massif via three new routes. His climbs in Pakistan’s Karakoram include the west face of Latok II along the “Tsering Mosong” route (which begins at the same height as the summit of Denali) where he climbed 26 pitches on a vertical cliff and then topped out at 23,342 feet.
In 1998, Conrad and Peter Croft made a first ascent of Spansar Peak via a 7,000-foot ridge in one day. In Patagonia, he climbed the three towers of the Cerro Torre Massif. On Yosemite’s El Capitan he joined Steve Gerberding and Kevin Thaw to establish “Continental Drift,” a steep “nail-up” on the right side. And in Zion National Park, Mugs Stump and Conrad first climbed the intimidating “Streaked Wall”.
In May of 1999, as a member of the Mallory & Irvine Research Expedition, Conrad discovered the body of George Mallory, the preeminent Everest explorer of the 1920s. The disappearance of Mallory and Sandy Irvine on their summit bid in June 1924 is one of climbing’s great mysteries, and Conrad’s discovery and analysis of the find has shed new light on the pioneering climbs of the early expeditions.
In October 2011, Conrad, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk summited one of the last great unclimbed features of the Himalayas by topping out on the Shark’s Fin route on the northwest face of 20,700-foot Meru in the Garhwal Himalaya. In the game of high-altitude, big-wall mountaineering, the previously unclimbed route represents one of the world’s ultimate mountaineering tests, with the lower third a classic alpine snow-and-ice route, the middle a mix of ice and rock, and the final section an extremely difficult, overhanging headwall. The Shark’s Fin has drawn many of the world’s top alpinists over the past 30 years, none of them able to finish the route.
Conrad graduated from the University of Utah and lives in Bozeman, Montana, with his wife and three sons. Anker serves on the board of the Conservation Alliance, the Rowell Fund for Tibet and the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation. “My involvement with these organizations is intrinsically rewarding,” Conrad says “and it’s among the most important work I do. It feels good to be able to give back to our community of humans and to the natural world.”
Adventure: The open road.
Favorite The North Face Product: Prism Optimus Down Jacket
Proudest Moment: Seeing the Khumbu Climbing School take off
Cause(s): Conservation, alliance, global giving, and the environment in general.
Spouse/Partner’s Name: Jennifer Leigh Lowe Anker
Children’s Name(s) Max, Sam, and Isaac
Pet’s Name/Type: Dogs, Happy and Leroy
Best Friend(s) Name(s): Jimmy Chin and Peter Croft
Favorite Cook and Dish: My wife - Apple Pie
Favorite Movie: Any James Bond
Favorite Snack: Organic cashews
Favorite Book: The New York Times Book of Knowledge
Favorite Magazine: Seed
Favorite Moment In History: When George Mallory’s body was found, opening up keys to the past, and Hermann’ Buhl’s ascent of Nanga Parbat
Most Recent Epic: Meru
Most Humbling Moment: Losing Alex Lowe. I was very sad.
Ambition: Be a teacher
Three Things People Should Know About Me
Inspiration Within the Sport: Friendship, Challenge, Risk, Teamwork, Wilderness, Excitement.
Dream Vacation: Morocco
Three Things I Always Pack: Knife, Lip Balm, Lighter
Web Site: conradanker.com
Ak Su, Russian Tower, Russian Shield, VI 5.10 A3 7/95 nr
Karakoram, W Face Latok II, 7,108 m. VII 5.10 A3 7/97 nr s
Karakoram, Spansar Peak, 5,850 m., VI 5.11 7/98 fa
Khumbu, Ama Dablam winter 90, Lobuche solo, Chomolungma, Tibet, 8,850 m. 5/99
Kishtwar, E Face, Kalidaha Spire, 6,000 m., VI 5.10 A2 9/88 fa
Tien Shan, Khan Tengri, 6,995 m., Invitation Speed Climbing Competition 9/93
Gurney Peak, SE Face, Kichatna Spires, VI 5.10 A3 5/87 nr
NW Face, Mt. Hunter 7/89 nr
Rakekniven, Snow Petrel Wall, Queen Maud Land, VI 5.10 A3 1/97 fa
Vinson Massif, Sentinel Mountains, 4,897 m. South Face nr 12/92, Ski Descent West Face (2,000 m. at 45), West Ridge 1/99 nr, East Face nr 01/01
Craddock, Sentinel Mountains, 4,659 m. 12/92 fa
Tyree, Sentinel Mountains, 4765 m 12/97
Baffin Island, Canada:
Stump Spire, Sam Ford Fiord, IV 5.11 7/92 fa
Badlands, Torre Egger VI 5.10 A3 12/94 nr
Continental Drift, El Capitan, VI 5.10 A4 97 nr
Stump/Anker Route, Streaked Wall, VI 5.11 A4 4/90 fa
Gripped magazine: Baffin adventures with Tom Valis, 2004
Outdoor Life Network: “Global Extremes Everest Challenge,” 2003
National Geographic Television: “Deadly Fashion,” 2003
National Geographic magazine: “Tibet Trek,” 2003
NOVA: “Mountain of Ice,” 2002
Outdoor Life Network: “To the Edge,” 2000
NOVA: “The Shackleton Story,” IMAX film, 2000
NBC Expedition Series: “Shishapangma,” 1999
BBC, NOVA, ZDF: “Lost on Everest,” 1999
National Geographic Television: “Queen Maud Land,” 1997
Cliffhanger Productions: “On Ice” 1995
The Lost Explorer: Finding Mallory, by Dave Roberts (book)