Rising Star

Jan 3, 2002
Outside Magazine

Isaac ascends Caveman near Haffner Creek, Alberta.

NAME: Sean Isaac
AGE: 29
GIG: Mixed climbing
SPECIALTY: Cave roofs and frozen waterfalls
HOMETOWN: Canmore, Alberta
HEIGHT: 5' 10"
WEIGHT: 153 pounds

SEEN NEXT: March 1 and 2 in Quebec City, Quebec, competing at the Ice World Cup Final, the first ice-climbing world-cup event to be held in North America.

VICTORY ODDS: Good to excellent. "I'd like nothing better than to see Sean go out there and kick ass," says Will Gadd, fellow Canmore resident and the 2000 Ice World Cup champion.
SPECIAL TALENT: Mixed climbing, which involves seamlessly moving from ice to rock without changing equipment. Sound easy? Try ascending vertical limestone with only your crampons and ice axes.

LATEST CONQUEST: Phyllis Diller, a previously unclimbed route in eastern British Columbia's Kootenay National Park that combines a 46-foot downward-sloping cave roof with a waterfall. It's rated M10—one of mixed climbing's hardest grades.

CHARACTER REFERENCE: "Sean's relentlessly upbeat—not dour like a lot of Canadians are," says fellow Albertan climber David Dornian. "In a tent, he's like the perfect pet. He's well-behaved and doesn't eat much."

FAVORITE CLIMBS: "Those that no one else has done before," Isaac says. "That might be a big wall in Kyrgyzstan, or some funky rat-infested cave."

SOUND TRACK: Isaac rounds out his climbing gear with a set of headphones. Current playlist: Prodigy, Moby, Rage Against the Machine.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Isaac wrote his sport's bible, Mixed Climbs in the Canadian Rockies (Rocky Mountain Books, 2000).

CLOSE CALL: A 10-ton ice pillar collapsed under his feet last March, throwing him into a cliff face and bruising his left side from head to toe. "I knew I was screwed," he says, counting his blessings. "People don't normally walk away from these things."

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