Steve House solos Repentance and Remission
The 2010 video filmed by Jim Surette of American climber Steve House as he solos two classic icefalls, Repentance and Remission in New Hampshire, USA.
"My attitude towards any climb of climbing is to take it as a gift and do what feels right and always honour those boundaries. Thats's an important way to live to a ripe old-age. I know that people watching will think that I'm not honoouring rhose boundaries, but for me I am."
This is how American alpinist Steve House describes his winter 2010 solo ascents of two of the most famous ice falls in the US, Repentance and the nearby Remission. Located at the Cathedral Ledge in North Conway, New Hampshire, Repentance is graded III WI5 and was first climbed in winter 1973 by John Bragg and Rick Wilcox while Remission was breached three winters later by Peter Cole, Timothy and Rainsford Rouner at IV WI5+ 5.7.
After all his climsb, such as his new route up the Central Pillar of the Rupal Face on Nanga Parbat (8125m) in 2005, and after having met him personally this summer during Mountain and alpinism storied at Courmayeur, we certainly believe that House is honouring his personal borders!
Repentance, Remission by Granite Films Jim Surette
by Vinicio Stefanello
Steve House is the alpinist who, in recent years, has inspired and motivated the "nouvelle vogue" of the purest form of alpinism. He who is at one with "alpine style", a synonym for climbing fast and light with little gear, ascending from the base to the summit in a single, continuous push.
Born in 1970 in Oregon and with a degree in ecology, Steve House became a Mountain Guide in 1999. Fame arrived with his splendid solo ascent of K7 in 2004, and this was magnified further by that incredible adventure up the Central Pillar of the immense Rupal Face on Nanga Parbat, carried out in 2005 together with Vincent Anderson. This climb earned him the Piolet d'or and a direct place among the elite alpinists of all times.
But one would understand little or nothing about House's way of climbing if one doesn't start from the where it all began, from his "alpine training" on the great and extremely cold mountains in Alaska and the Canadian Rockies. Indeed, it was on McKinley (or Denali) that in 1995 House - aged 25 - established one of his most famous routes. And in was on North America's biggest and most fearsome mountain once again that he forged another two lines, one in 1996 and the other in 1997. Listing all his cutting-edge routes prior to his international breakthrough is no mean task, yet his new route up Mount Bradley - established over a three-day period in 1998 with legendary mark Twight and Jonny Blitz - certainly deserves a special mention. The year 2000 shines with the extremely fast, 60 hour ascent of the Czech Direct on Denali together with Twight and Scott Backes and, while on the subject of speed, two years later he raced up the Infinite Spur on Mount Foraker in a 20 hour ascent and 5 hour descent, instead of the 7 days which alpinists usually require. And his highly respectably 27 hour ascent, from base camp to the summit and back again, of Cho Oyu deserves mentioning too, a true stamina and resistance test at the highest of altitudes.
So this is the route of learning and growth House undertook and which paved the way for all the rest. Starting with that ascent which took the world of alpinism by storm: the first ascent, solo, up the SW Face of K7. As is clear this undertaking evidently didn't stem from nowhere yet it left everyone amazed nevertheless. Not only due to the truly exceptional, daring nature of how it was conceived, but also due to the purest style in which it was carried out. The climb proved to be an authentic illumination for other alpinists. On K7, the beautiful mountain located in Pakistan's Charakusa Valley, House set off, retreated and set off again three times before clutching his summit dreams. An unthinkable test in view of the difficulties and risks involved. "Psychologically this was difficult, certainly..." House explained to planetmountain.com "But every time I set off I got closer to the summit, because each time I learnt something new. I had to be at my best, and I needed three attempts to be just that."
Perhaps this is where House's fascination for K7 lies, in this real journey into the very heart of knowledge. An undertaking which in 2005 resulted "only", and not without controversy, in the Spectator's choice of the Piolet d'Or. In some respects his personal story as reference point for alpinists worldwide was only just in the making. Unsurprisingly, a year later House was there again, in the Himalaya, indicating the way for an alpinism which tests itself in order to gleam a greater understanding of itself.
This time the objective was the immense Rupal Face up Nanga Parbat, which House chose to confront together with Vincent Anderson, his age-old friend. The two set off and immediately weved their way into the "monster", searching for the route they had sensed from below, the only possible solution past the extremely dangerous seracs. Theirs was a life-and-death bet which, after 7 incredible days, terminated on the summit and which in turn was recognised as the most important ascent of the year. This climb, the third up this legendary face and the first in alpine style, was subsequently crowned with the Oscars of alpinism, i.e. the Piolet d'Or which definitively consecrated Steve House.
But, as was to be expected, those searching their interior self never conclude their journey. And House certainly didn't stop. He continued with other climbs. With other adventures which privileged, first and foremost, the personal search and experience, such as his new routes on Mount Robson and Mount Alberta in the Canadian Rockies. And such as the publication of Beyond the Mountain, the book in which House recounts his story and, above all, examines his experience as a greater whole. That of life beyond alpinism and the mountains, which has searched - and continues to search for - the very essence of being within alpinism itself. Because our interior journey, like that in the mountains, has no real end.