You would think there would be very few first ascents left in US mountaineering and climbing. It is a little harder to find them and they are further out in the backcountry, but they are there. A new generation of climbers are out there putting up new, long, hard (and moderate) routes.
The easy ones are indeed gone. For example you generally can’t stroll through Yosemite Valley and pick out an unclimbed route to try. So how to find these new climbs? One good way is by plane.
I had the pleasure of taking two of these premier climbers, Brandon Thau and Brian Prince, up for a three hour reconnaissance flight over the high Sierra of California. Brandon’s family also went along and I was impressed that they put up with the banking and frequent altitude changes. No one barfed.
Bradon’s son Sebastian got a couple of great iPhone videos of Half Dome and El Cap overflights.
Brandon and Brian sent me some of their photos (I was flying and didn’t take any), but I’m afraid to publish any close ups as I may give away one of their future conquests.
It was a fun flight and already Brian has hiked in to check out a formation that seems to be calling to him.