Thursday, May 14, 2009

Climbing with Conrad Anker

Working at the Alpine Shop has presented many cool opportunities over the years. However, today’s “opportunity” really just about takes the cake!
As advertised, Conrad Anker is in St. Louis tonight to host the movie, EVEREST, and to give his own multimedia presentation on his career and his latest first ascent. He is a world-class climber and as such I shouldn’t have been surprised to learn that he wanted to get a “work out” in before his afternoon of presenting and talking about his climbing experiences. Upper Limits, the local climbing gym, agreed to let him climb this morning, before their regular opening time of noon. This arrangement is super cool on Upper Limits’ part, and then to top it off they decided to invite Alpine Shop employees to join in!! I can only begin to describe how cool this morning was to all of us!! We had the entire gym to ourselves!

Conrad Anker has climbed all over the world and helps to draw attention and funding to a charitable foundation in his deceased partner’s name. I won’t go into his list of accomplishments, but you can find out lots more information about his life and mission at his website or at the website of the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation’s website.

So, on to the really cool stuff from this morning!! We got there about 10am, and in total there were 5 of us from the shop (3 from the Kirkwood store, and 2 from the Chesterfield store). We actually got there about a half hour earlier than Conrad and Brian Masewicz, the North Face rep who was helping to make all of the day’s events possible. Since we were there, we decided to go ahead and start climbing. I think we were all a little intimidated by the idea of climbing with someone who was so much more experienced than all of us, which meant that the warm up time was greatly appreciated. It was also really nice to swap belays with my coworkers, instead of having to talk about work!

After Conrad and Brian showed up, we continued to climb and Conrad joined the group. Of course, when he was climbing everyone paid a little more attention to what route he was doing and what move. It is really amazing to see confident climbers do their thing: so much grace and pose in their moves! On a side note, it was fun to see that even someone of Conrad’s abilities does a warm up route of a 5.6.

Although this entire event had developed from Conrad wanting to get his own work out in, he was very relaxed and took the time to give everyone else a belay or tips on their climbing. He came over to watch me on a route that was slightly above my ability level. I was ¾ of the way up, had finally fallen, and was taking a rest. All I could think was that he HAD to come over to watch when I was pumped and hanging on the rope! This was actually a good thing though, since you can’t wuss out with such an experienced climber watching you, so I got back on the route and with a cheating hold or two, was able to make it up the rest of the route. By the time I came down, Conrad had moved onto a climb of his own, and my belayer decided to take a turn at the same route I had been on. She also had problems at the same spot and Conrad came over and offered to climb the route to help us troubleshoot the area. Watching him climb a route that I had fresh in my mind was really interesting. Of course his strength and ability were far better, but it was neat to see that many of his moves were the same. When it came to the troublesome section, he moved left on the wall, where both myself and my coworker had started to go right. This left him in a very different position about 2 feet higher up, and completely changed the sequence of holds that were used for this section. After he came down, we talked about the route for a little bit and then he went on to another route. Another two coworkers came over to work this route and after seeing another two examples of how the route was done, I decided to give it another try. I still fell in the troublesome section, but I got a lot farther into it and was almost through when I fell. I rested briefly and then finished the route, without any cheating holds this time! Just another example of how watching and learning from other climbers is such an important component to climbing!

At noon, Upper Limits opens to the public, and a few regular customers came in. We finished up and then posed for a group picture. It had been a really fun morning! This afternoon there is going to be a Meet and Greet event for Conrad to talk one on one with some of our customers, and then of course the big event is the Everest movie at the IMAX tonight at 7pm! What a great day of climbing and movie watching!!

(more, AND better, pictures to follow, when I get them from the North Face Rep!)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Alpine Shop Welcomes Conrad Anker to St. Louis

One of the most acclaimed mountaineers of recent history, Conrad Anker has climbed some of 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. 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.

Alpine Shop, in cooperation with The North Face and the St. Louis Science Center would like to invite you to experience the majesty of the Himalayas and the dangers they pose through two special presentations. First: an exclusive showing of the OMNIMAX film EVEREST followed by an even rarer chance to see this majestic region of the world through Anker's eyes through a mulitmedia presentation immediately following one of his expeditions to those very mountains.

Make plans to join us on Thursday, May 14 at 7 pm for Conrad Anker: A Night of Summits and Support. General admission tickets are just $5 for the whole night and will be available in advance starting Friday, May 1 at 7 pm (as part of our Swap Friday Night First Choice Night) at all Alpine Shop locations.

Want to make a dramatic night even more memorable?A very limited number of exclusive engagement passes will be sold on a first come-first served basis. These passes will include tickets to the show with preferred seating as well as an invitation to a private reception at Culpepper's in Kirkwood before the show. Along with food and drink (also provided with the ticket cost), you'll have a chance to meet and talk with Anker about his adventures. We will sell only 30 of these exclusive passes at a cost of $35. Again this package includes a pass to the private reception at Culpepper's with Conrad Anker, all food and drinks at the reception, and preferred seating at the show.

All proceeds from tickets sold to this event will benefit the Khumbu Climbing School Program, part of the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation.

The Night's Agenda:
4 - 6 pm: Meet & Greet Reception at Culpepper's in Kirkwood (premium ticket required)

7 - 7:45 pm: EVEREST Film on the OMNIMAX screen

7:45 - 8 pm: Intermission

8 - 9 pm: FEATURED Presentation - Conrad Anker

Saturday, May 9, 2009

You Can Paddle Day Photos

Photos from today's You Can Paddle Day are up on our Facebook fan page at

Thanks to everyone for joining us on a gorgeous, if occasionally chilly day on the water. Thanks to all our reps who made it in for the event and helped give our customers a chance to paddle some of the newest and best craft on the market. If you couldn't make it out this year, make plans to join us next year.

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Live Reports from You Can Paddle Day @ Creve Coeur Lake

Paddling starts at 11 am this morning at Creve Coeur Lake. We're down at the Taco Bell Shelter on the South side of the Lake. Everything's free! All you need to do is sign in with us at the beach and we'll get you out on the water.

Alpine Shop hopes to see you today! Come out and paddle the kayak or canoe of your dreams today.

Photos to come soon!