Mark Smiley is a climber, skier, and mountain guide who has teamed up with his wife Janelle in an attempt to climb each of the 50 routes described in Steck and Roper’s famous 50 Classic Climbs of North America. Mark recently returned from another attempt at climbing Middle Triple Peak in the Kichatna Spires of Alaska, and we caught up with him as he was returning to civilization.
What are 3 of your favorite routes/peaks/trips?
Climbing the Lotus Flower Tower in Canada’s NW Territories, the Cassin Ridge on Denali and the Becky Chouinard route on South Howser Tower. I also really love ski touring in the Tetons.
What motivates you or draws you into your sub discipline of mountain adventure?
I am motivated by going new places and seeing how far my body can take me. There are countless lifetimes of adventure to be had in the world…I want to use mine to the fullest. While guiding on Mt Rainier for four summers I reached the top 52 times and half way up probably another 40. That got old. I am also not a big fan of skiing crappy snow, as the Tetons have made me a snob.
Does your work/employment complement your passion?
Yes, guiding is a great way to stay outside and teach my clients the skills needed to be strong and efficient in the mountains. It’s important for me to find the work play balance. Especially in the heart of a busy summer season, it’s so nice to simply get out and climb with friends…or just binge watch a dumb TV series.
If you could give any training / improving / ski advice to yourself 5 years ago, what would it be?
Hire a pro to teach me. Even though buying sometimes time is costly, the improvements they can help with are so worth it.
Any plans/goals for the next year?
Trying to finish the fifty classic climbs of North America with my wife. We have completed 46 and I’m actually typing this up in a tent at the base of Middle Triple Peak which is a 3200′ rock climb. El Cap meets the North Pole or something like that.
It depends if I had to prepare it or not. If prepared for me then I go with Yosemites Awhanee Sunday brunch menu (I ate there to celebrate my wedding anniversary), which includes almost everything. If I had to prepare it, probably go with my Grandma’s receipt for buttermilk pancakes with all types of exotic fruits and syrups, hash browns and thick cut bacon…again, I’m writing this while storm bound on a glacier in Alaska…day 5 of who knows how many.