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Alpinist Steve Swenson presents Karakoram

Extreme Sports, Rock Climbing, Hiking

World-class alpinist Steve Swenson has been climbing for nearly half a century and is former president of the American Alpine Club. Among many other accomplishments, he and his teammates were awarded a prestigious Piolet d’Or for their successful ascent of Saser Kangri II in 2012. Swenson’s writing has appeared in Climbing, Rock and Ice, Alpinist, and the American Alpine Journal. He divides his time between Seattle, Washington, and Canmore, Alberta. For more about Karakoram, see The best mountain climbing in the world, Steve Swenson will tell you, is in the Karakoram. He has been climbing there since 1980 and has a perspective on the land and its people like few others. Swenson writes of his naiveté on his first visit to Pakistan for an attempt on Gasherbrum IV, during which he faced the teeming streets of Islamabad and new challenges of dealing with a confusing array of bureaucrats, hiring hundreds of porters, as well as the business of attempting to climb a towering peak just shy of 8,000 meters. By 2015 when he invited climbers to join him on an attempt of K6, Swenson had become the old-hand. Even as he managed a career and family at home, Swenson returned to the region more than a dozen times, making attempts on well known giants such as K2, Everest, and Nanga Parbat, as well as other peaks. What drew him repeatedly was that he always learned something new and forged strong bonds with his climbing partners, including Doug Scott, Alex Lowe, Steve House, and others.