As a child on a family vacation I remember vividly sitting on a flat rock near the shore of Bear Lake. Towering above me, dominating the skyline were the steep and jagged cliffs of Hallet Peak. I stared totally mesmerized as I soaked my feet wondering what it must feel like to stand on its summit. 25 years later I knew that feeling first hand when my love affair with the mountains and climbing began.
I’ve been fortunate to summit many iconic peaks: The Matterhorn (14,692’), Mont Rainier (14,411’), Grand Teton (13,770’), Cathedral Peak (10,911’) in Yosemite’s Tuolumne Meadows, Canada’s Mount Sir Donald and Bugaboo Spire, and Mont Blanc (15,782’) the highest mountain in the Alps. I’ve climbed in the deserts of Zion National Park and Red Rocks Canyon, the snowy volcanoes and steep ridges of Washington’s remote North Cascades, 10 of Colorado’s famous 14ers, and the icy glaciers and snowy pinnacles of the Alps.
My love of mixed climbing has led me to the Alps 5 times, climbing classic routes like the Rochefort Ridge (13,126’), Aiguille d’Argentiere (12,802’), Aiguille du Chardonnet (12,540’), and the Cosmiques Arête of Aiguille du Midi (12,605’). I’m an Alpine climber who’s comfortable on rock, snow and ice, and most at home on an exposed airy ridge. I’m a moderate rock climber (meaning I can climb most anything up to 5.8) and have no trouble immediately falling from any grade above 5.9 with incredible consistency. I have enjoyed the occasional unplanned bivouac high on the mountain, know what lightning “feels” like, glissade with uncanny skill and speed, and once had a marmot eat most of my gear. But it is the remoteness of the landscape, great friendships, sense of accomplishment, solitude, grandeur, and beauty that brings me back each time.
“May Your trails be crooked, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.” Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire
My love of mixed climbing has led me to the Alps 3 times, climbing classic routes like the Rochefort Ridge (13,126’), Aiguille d’Argentiere (12,802’), Aiguille du Chardonnet (12,540’), and the Cosmiques Arête of Aiguille du Midi (12,605’).
Photo by Jonathon Spitzer[img src=http://www.josephcaulkins.com/wp-content/flagallery/mountain-climbing/thumbs/thumbs_moutaineeringgall3.jpg]2640Jonathon Spitzer and Joseph on the 14,692 foot Matterhorn, Swiss Alps 2013
Photo by of Jonathon Spitzer[img src=http://www.josephcaulkins.com/wp-content/flagallery/mountain-climbing/thumbs/thumbs_moutaineeringgall1.jpg]2470Nearing the summit of the Matterhorn, Swiss Alps 2013
Photo by of Jonathon Spitzer[img src=http://www.josephcaulkins.com/wp-content/flagallery/mountain-climbing/thumbs/thumbs_moutaineeringgall4.jpg]2430Training on the Riffelhorn above the Gorner Glacier, Swiss Alps 2013
Photo by of Jonathon Spitzer[img src=http://www.josephcaulkins.com/wp-content/flagallery/mountain-climbing/thumbs/thumbs_mount-canigou_michelle-50th.jpg]1950Celebrating Michelle’s 50th birthday on the summit of Mount Canigou in the French Pyrenees
[img src=http://www.josephcaulkins.com/wp-content/flagallery/mountain-climbing/thumbs/thumbs_mountaineergall1.jpg]6160Courtesy of Lasting Impressions Photography
[img src=http://www.josephcaulkins.com/wp-content/flagallery/mountain-climbing/thumbs/thumbs_mountaineergall2-1.jpg]5680Climbing in the Alps above Chamonix, 2012
[img src=http://www.josephcaulkins.com/wp-content/flagallery/mountain-climbing/thumbs/thumbs_mountaineergall3.jpg]5400Sunrise on Aiguille du Chardonnet, French Alps 2009
[img src=http://www.josephcaulkins.com/wp-content/flagallery/mountain-climbing/thumbs/thumbs_mountaineergall4-1.jpg]5240The Alpen playground above Vallee Blanche, French Alps, 2012
[img src=http://www.josephcaulkins.com/wp-content/flagallery/mountain-climbing/thumbs/thumbs_mountaineergall5.jpg]5030Summit of Mount Rainier at sunrise, Washington Cascades, 2007
[img src=http://www.josephcaulkins.com/wp-content/flagallery/mountain-climbing/thumbs/thumbs_still-climbing.jpg]4870Early morning near the top of Grand Teton (13,770’)
[img src=http://www.josephcaulkins.com/wp-content/flagallery/mountain-climbing/thumbs/thumbs_mountaineergall7.jpg]4800The Desert playground, Zion National Park, Utah, 2011
[img src=http://www.josephcaulkins.com/wp-content/flagallery/mountain-climbing/thumbs/thumbs_mountaineergall8.jpg]4720The classic Rochefort Ridge, Italian Alps, 2009
[img src=http://www.josephcaulkins.com/wp-content/flagallery/mountain-climbing/thumbs/thumbs_mountaineergall9.jpg]4620Mont Blanc Massif from the Italian side, climbed Mont Blanc (15,782 feet) in 2006
[img src=http://www.josephcaulkins.com/wp-content/flagallery/mountain-climbing/thumbs/thumbs_mountaineergall10.jpg]4330On the Sulphide Glacier of Mount Shuksan, Washington Cascades, 2007
[img src=http://www.josephcaulkins.com/wp-content/flagallery/mountain-climbing/thumbs/thumbs_mountaineergall11-1.jpg]4260What goes up must come down. Rappelling, French Alps, 2009