Mountaineering: Get Thee Back to Thy Sloop

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Outside magazine, September 1995

Mountaineering: Get Thee Back to Thy Sloop
By Todd Balf (with Martin Dugard)

In mountaineering’s answer to professional golf’s seniors tour, legendary American climbers John Roskelley, Jim Wickwire, and Charlie Porter, ages hovering around 50, joined last spring to attempt a first ascent of the southwest face of Tierra del Fuego’s Mount Sarmiento. The Wickwire-Roskelley partnership was nothing new–in 1978, with Lou Reichardt and Rick Ridgeway, they
became the first Americans to summit K2–but the addition of Porter was a surprise. A Yosemite big-wall hero in the 1970s, Porter hadn’t been heard from since the mideighties, when he embarked in a homemade sloop for some Chilean fjords. Alas, Porter’s return to the public eye wasn’t ideal. He and Wickwire were flung from the mountain by freakish winds, and Porter saved himself
from a 2,000-foot fall by spearing his arm into a narrow crevasse, fracturing his shoulder. The pair descended safely; meanwhile Roskelley and two other teammates, Australia’s Tim Macartney-Snape and Britain’s Stephen Venables, took advantage of a ten-hour weather window on April 16 to ascend the west summit. “I hope Charlie doesn’t get mad at us,” said Wickwire. “It’s a
fascinating part of the world to climb in.”

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