Andy Parkin: Alpine Climber and Big Mountain Survivor

Before I left Chamonix, I was able to have a last supper with my friend, artist and alpine climber Andy Parkin. Over the years that I’ve known him, he’s told me some pretty out-there stories…mostly about defying death in the mountains, but also about other rip-roaring adventures, too.

I’ve never officially interviewed Andy, so when I thought about interviewing him to write a Q&A article for the About.com Survival Skills site, I knew we’d just sit down and talk. I asked him to tell me his best survival story, and I also–for the first time–asked him if I could take notes so that I could write about it. He didn’t object. But he talks so fast that I found myself scribbling wildly to keep up!

At first, Andy tossed out a few ideas–outsmarting a storm while trying to climb a new route on Patagonia’s Cerro Torre with Francois Marsigny, a similar solo survival experience on Fitz Roy, a very grim Christmas with Victor Saunders on Shishapangma. He settled on telling me about Cerro Torre because he said that it was the one that’s inspired him the most to survive other (maybe even worse) things in the years that followed it.

I took eleven pages of notes for what should have been only a 600-word article. I wrote more than double that, and the article doesn’t even come close to the detail he gave me or the detail I would have liked to share. But I realized a few things while talking to Andy about Cerro Torre. First of all: I’d heard lots of bits and pieces of this story over the years, but hearing it like this all at once finally gave me the kind of satisfaction I imagine I’d get if I’d just put together a humongous jigsaw puzzle. Secondly: I’m glad, so glad he’s alive to tell me these stories.

What to read Andy’s tale of survival on Cerro Torre?
“Survivor Q&A with Andy Parkin: Alpine Climber and Big Mountain Survivor”
Alpine climber Andy Parkin shares his story of surviving Patagonia’s Cerro Torre with François Marsigny in 1994 when the pair got blindsided by bad weather and traversed Patagonia’s Continental ice cap to reach safety…click here to continue reading

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