[Photo] Giulio Malfer
Posted on: June 1, 2005
Until I found God, climbing was my only religion. Initially, I was drawn to climbing because I knew nothing about it. Although I was afraid of heights, I wanted to challenge myself, and alpine climbing, especially in the winter in the Rockies, became my passion. Surviving my first forced bivouac, my first avalanche and my first storm without food accelerated my learning curve. After three winters, I decided to see what I could learn from other mountain ranges around the world.
As a kid, I never dreamed I would visit countries like Peru, Nepal and India, but climbing brought me to these places and more, and interacting with their cultures helped me develop an open mind. But what meant the most was the intense bond that formed between me and my partners when we worked together through incredible hardships.
My major motivation now is to learn new skills as I push my technical abilities. Climbing at my limits keeps me humble. I am trying to lose the judgmental attitude and focus instead on my connections with other people and the environment. I have finally reached a place where I can be a driven climber, but content at the same time. Though I am still looking for the next cool line to do, that search no longer defines who I am.
Eric Bjornstad: curriculum vitae
1979: First climb: 5.6, Green Cover, North Carolina, while a student at North Carolina Outward Bound.
1980: First ice climb: Hidden Gully (WI3+), Smuggler's Notch, Vermont.
1982: Graduates from University of Vermont.
1981-86: Numerous winter ascents including Mt. Sneffels (14,150'), Grand Teton (13,770') and Mt. Shuksan (9,127').
1981-85: Instructor, Outward Bound (North Carolina, Colorado, Pacific Coast).
1984: Southwest Face (AD+, 1,150'), Alpamayo (19,600') and North Face (AD, 1,500'), Quitaraju (19,900'), Cordillera Blanca, Peru, ascents, with Bobby Knight.
1985: Cassin Ridge (Alaska Grade 5, 5.8 AI4, 9,000'), Denali (20,320'), Alaska Range, Alaska, ascent, with Colin Grissom.
1985-90: Guide, American Alpine Institute.
1986: Bouchard Route (65-90 degrees, 2,800'), Chacraraju Oeste (20,052'), second ascent, with Jeff Lakes. North face, Thalay Sagar (23,000'), Garhwal Himalaya, India, attempt (to ca. 21,000'), with Andy Selters.
1987: Northeast Ridge (TD: 55 degrees, 8,000'), Dhaulagiri (26,800'), Nepal Himalaya, first American female ascent, with Colin Grissom and John Culberson. Leads expedition.
1988: Marries Colin Grissom. Receives American Mountain Foundation's Catherine Freer Memorial Award.
1990: West Pillar (ED+: 5.8 A2 AI3+, 10,000'), Makalu (27,800'), Nepal Himalaya, first female ascent, with John Schutt. Leads expedition.
1990-98: Director and Chair, The American Alpine Club (AAC) Expeditions Committee.
1991: Receives AAC's Underhill Award. Member, Panel of Judges, Gore's Shipton-Tilman Prize.
1993: Earns MBA from University of Washington. North ridge, Latok I (21,441'), attempt, Karakoram, Pakistan. Starts Mugs Stump Grant.
1994-99: Team member, The North Face.
1994-95: Part owner, director, guide, Exum Mountain Adventures.
1995: North Face (V 5.11+, 12 pitches), The Bird (15,663'), first free ascent; South Face (V 5.10+, 12 pitches), Peak 4810 (15,781'), new route; Fat City (VI 5.12, 18 pitches), Slesova (13,911'), new route. Ak-Su Valley, Pamir Alai, Kyrgyzstan, with Jay Smith.
1996: Son Grady Grissom born. North face, Thalay Sagar (23,000'), attempt (to ca. 21,900'), Garhwal Himalaya, India, with Jay Smith.
1997: Ride the Lightning (VI 5.10 A4 WI3, 4,000'), new route, west face, Middle Triple Peak (8,835'), Kichatna Range, Alaska, with Jay Smith, Dan Osman and Steve Gerberding.
1998: West face, Latok III (22,799'), attempt (to ca. 19,685'), Karakoram, Pakistan, with Jay Smith, Steve Quinlan and Ken Sauls.
2000: Ambassador, Patagonia. Guide, Chicks with Picks. Lurking Fear (VI 5.9 A2, 2,000'), El Capitan, Yosemite Valley, California, with Kim Czismazia and Julie Faure.
2001: Hallucinogen Wall (VI 5.10 A3, 14 pitches), Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado, with Kim Czismazia and Julie Faure.
2002: Film: Fire on Ice, with Kim Reynolds. The Fang (V 5.10 A3, 650') and Bird Beak Spire (V 5.10 A3, 800'), Zion National Park, Utah, with Kim Czismazia and Renee Globis. Zodiac (VI 5.10 A2, 1,800'), El Capitan, Yosemite Valley, California, with Julie Faure.
2003: Marries Jay Smith. The Nose (VI 5.9 A2, 2,900'), El Capitan, Yosemite Valley, California, with Rebecca Roseberry.