Conrad Anker

Mark Synnott

Alpine Climber

Mark Synnott, 45, is a pioneering big wall climber and one of the most prolific adventurers of his generation. His search for unclimbed and unexplored rock walls has taken him on nearly 30 expeditions to places like Alaska, Baffin Island, Greenland, Iceland, Newfoundland, Patagonia, Guyana, Venezuela, Pakistan, Nepal, India, China, Tibet, Uzbekistan, Russia, Cameroon, Chad, Borneo, Oman and Pitcairn Island.

The North Face: Tent Bound in Devil's Bay

The idea started off as a good one: To establish new trad climbs on the amazing 1,200-foot granite big-wall rocketing directly out of the ocean in Devil's Bay, Newfoundland. But for climbers Hazel Findlay, Alex Honnold, James Pearson and Mark Synnott, the great idea soon became something much different then planned.

The North Face: Tent Bound in Devil's Bay





One of the first climbers to explore Baffin Island's remote east coast, Mark has been on five trips to the island, and has pioneered four big wall first ascents on the east coast, including a grade VII on the 4700-foot north face of Polar Sun Spire -- an epic wall that required the team to spend 36 nights in portaledges. In Auyuittuq National Park, Mark completed the first ski descent of the South Face of Mt. Odin via a 5000' couloir. His book: "Baffin Island: Climbing, Trekking, Skiing" was published in 2007. In Pakistan’s Karakoram Mountains, Mark established two grade VII big wall first ascents -- The Ship of Fools on Shipton Spire and Parallel Worlds on Great Trango Tower. The latter, a 6000-foot wall topping out over 20,000 feet is one of the longest rock climbs in the world. Closer to home, Mark has climbed Yosemite’s El Capitan 22 times, including several one-day ascents.

When he's not in the mountains, Mark works with The North Face Research, Design and Development team and lectures frequently on his life as a professional climber and explorer. He has done motivational speaking for clients like General Motors, Bank of New York, Vanity Fair, the X Prize Foundation and the National Geographic Society. Mark has also worked extensively in the film and television industry, both in front of and behind the camera. His credits include work for National Geographic Television, NBC Sports, Warren Miller Entertainment, Teton Gravity Research and Red Bull Media House. An accomplished journalist and author, Mark is a regular contributor to National Geographic Magazine, and his work has appeared in many other publications including Men's Journal, Outside, Climbing, Rock & Ice, Skiing, and New York Magazine.

Mark is also a certified mountain guide and the owner and director of one of the premier guide services in the east: Synnott Mountain Guides. SMG offers instruction in rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering, backcountry skiing, and avalanche education. He is also a long time member of the Mountain Rescue Service (MRS) and currently serves on the board of MRS and the Access Fund.




Career Highlights

Baffin Island:

  • The Great and Secret Show VII 5.11 A4

  • WI3 North Face of Polar Sun Spire (first ascent)

  • Crossfire VI 5.10 A4 South Face of Great Cross Pillar (first ascent)
Nuvualik VI 5.10+ A3+ West Face of the Turret (single push: 40 hrs/with fixing; first ascent)
Rum and the Lash VI 5.10 A4+ Northwest Face of Sail Peak (first ascent)

Karakoram, Pakistan:

  • The Ship of Fools VII 5.11 A2 WI6 Northeast

  • Face of Shipton Spire (first ascent)

  • Parallel Worlds VII 5.11 A4 Northwest Face of Great Trango Tower (first ascent of NW Face and West summit)


  • The Compressor Route 5.10 A1 Cerro Torre
(27 hours from Norwegian camp)

  • SCUD 5.11, 7 pitch direct start to Exocet, Cerro Stanhardt (attempt)
  • Attempted first alpine style ascent of Fitzroy's 2200m Slovak Route on west face


  • Attempt on North Face of Jannu (25,294


  • Shaken Not Stirred, west face of Moose's Tooth
  • Alaska Range, (reached middle summit, 6 hrs. on route)

  • The Dream in the Spirit of Mugs V 5.10c, west face of the Eye Tooth (24 hours r/t)


  • The Great Technical Adventure 5.12d

  • Rhumsiki Tower (first ascent, 10 pitches, redpointed route)


  • The Shooting Gallery VI 5.10 A2+ West
  • ace of North Howser Tower (led every pitch; first

  • Beckey-Chouinard V 5.10 Southwest Pillar of South Hower Tower

Canadian Rockies:

  • East Face of Mt. Babel IV 5.11 (15 hrs. car to car)
East Ridge of Mt. Temple

  • East Ridge of Mt. Edith Cavell


  • El Capitan: 22 ascents including 2nd ascent of Reticent Wall (A5) and single pushes on Lost in America
 (24:47; 2nd fastest), Tangerine Trip, Lurking Fear (9+ hours), Nose
(13:45), and West Face

  • Regular Northwest Face VI 5.10 A2 Half Dome (one day)

  • Lost Arrow Spire Direct VI 5.11 A3 Yosemite Falls Wall

  • Misty Wall VI 5.10 A3 Yosemite Falls Wall
West Face V 5.10 A2 Leaning Tower (single push: 7 hrs.)

  • South Face V 5.10 A1 Washington Column

  • Steck-Salathe V 5.9 Sentinel

  • Chouinard-Herbert V 5.11+ Sentinel

  • Direct North Buttress V 5.10 Middle Cathedral

Black Canyon of the Gunnison

  • Stratosfear VI 5.11+ R Painted Wall

  • The Dragon Route VI 5.10 A4 (first winter ascent of Painted Wall)

  • Paint it Black VI 5.11 A3+ North Chasm View Wall (2nd ascent, winter)
Air Voyage V 5.12a North Chasm View Wall

  • Scenic Cruise V 5.10 + North Chasm View Wall

  • Goss-Logan V 5.11 R North Chasm View Wall

  • Astro-Dog V 5.11+ South Chasm View Wall

  • Southern Arete V 5.10+ Painted Wall

The Desert Southwest

  • The Ball and Chain VI 5.10 A4 North

  • Face of Angel's Landing, Zion (3rd ascent, led every pitch)

  • The Sundevil Chimney VI 5.9 A4 The Titan, Fisher Towers

  • Colorado NE Ridge V 5.9 A2 King Fisher, Fisher Towers
The Kor Route V 5.10 A3 Steamboat Rock, Dinosaur National Monument
(3rd ascent)
Approximately 20 desert tower free routes

Selected Ice Routes

  • Acid Howl, Canadian Rockies WI 6+
The Terminator, Canadian Rockies WI 6+

  • Les Miserables, Canadian Rockies WI 6+

  • Gramusat Direct, Tete Du Gramusat, France WI6+

  • Hydnefossen, Hemsedal, Norway WI 6+

  • Mixed Routes
Manchurian Refuge M7+ Trollville, NH
(first ascent)

  • Cold, Cold World M8+ Eagle Cliff, NH (2nd ascent)

  • Snake LipM8 Trollville, NH (first
Diaper Rash M7 Trollville, NH (2nd ascent)

  • The Mongol M8 Trollville, NH (1st ascent) (first

  • Free Climbs
Best on-sight: 5.12b
Best redpoint: 5.13b


  • Red Bull Media House/Teton Gravity Research: documentary about career as a big wall climber and explorer
  • 2015
Author of "Sins of the Aral," 2015

  • Author of "Impossible Rock," 2012
Warren Miller Films: climb/ski descent from NW summit of Mt. Waddington, Coast

  • Range, BC, 2009
Author of "Climbing, Trekking and Skiing," 2007

  • NBC TV: documentary on climbing Great Trango Tower in Pakistan, 1999

  • National Geographic TV: climber/expedition leader for documentary on free climbing in Cameroon, 1999

  • National Geographic TV: climber/videographer for documentary on Baffin Island big wall first ascent, 1998

  • National Geographic TV: chief rigger/climbing talent for documentary shot in Iceland, 1998