We drew routelines on the Paramount Pictures logo and asked our Facebook fans to tell stories of the routes’ fictional first ascents. Here are some of our favorite responses.
“Michael Myers, AAC” (aka Stamati Anagnostou):
(3) East Ridge (ABO 3-: AI4 M9, A5++, 52? 17,203′)
“There’s gonna be times in your life when people tell you, you can’t do something. And there’s gonna be times in your life when people tell you, you can’t live your dreams… This is what I tell them: Never say never.”~ Justin Beiber
“Paramount?” Robert Hope struggled to speak clearly through worn vocal cords. “Mount Para,” I returned. No more needed to be said- Hope knew that whenever I switched syllables, it was on. We convened at The Farcical Cow to drink ourselves into the idiotic state we knew we’d have to attain in order to commit to such a strange and terrifying peak. Sometimes a man must abandon all abandon in order to reach his full and transcendent potential. So we downed another Peruvian Bearfucker. And another. As our speech became ever more fluid, a plan started to crystallize: the East Ridge, alpine style. It would be the first such route on a summit normally approached in a Genghis Khan like manner: slow, relentless, and with a lot of unspeakable acts of strange fornication.
Paramount Peak (21,834′) unfolds from the underlying Jackass Plains in a splendid and uninterrupted rise to its knife-edge summit, scoured by ferocious winds and shaped by near constant rockfall even as the tectonic action below forces the mountain ever closer to the gates of heaven. Early explorer Samuel Goldwyn described Paramount as “the most unbelievable thing I’ve seen since Crocodile Dundee II.” With that reputation, Hope and I knew we had to climb it by the longest and most varied route. After our debauch at The Cow, we immediately began tossing ropes, pitons, axes, girly mags, and all other expedition essentials into our duffels. We booked a flight to Viacomistan for that night, and off we were, into the deep unknown which Lao Tzu calls “that darkness that’s like, really dark and stuff.”
Some days, only tomorrow exists. And that tomorrow is called yesterday. As we cruised to basecamp on the Jackass, the high clouds opened up and allowed us our first view of the peak, framed as it was in glorious five pointed stars and marked proudly with it’s name. We came to rely on our Google Glass throughout the expedition and similarly labeled important features, like the Bruckheimer Step and Footloose Headwall, with our trademark panache. The clouds closed again and we marched on, visions of steep ice and rock in our heads. We struck camp at the base of the route and I fell into an exhausted and fitful sleep with alpinist Kurt Russell’s words echoing in my head, “When you think you’re good, you will play at that level. If you doubt yourself, you will play like crap.”
We roped up early that morning to clear skies, Paramount and the East Ridge looming ahead. The approach was mellow and on perfect snow. I started off on the first pitch of inspiring “Forrest Gump ice.” Then a wall stood in front of us, short but improbable, much like the box-office success of Good Burger. Hope could see my fear as I glanced at him. He knowingly quoted the legendary Paramount pioneer Kevin Bacon: “I don’t have to do the lead. If I dig a part I’ll do it.” I gladly obliged. Hope took the sharp end and lead several overhanging pitches with difficulties up to M9 and A2. Topping out we spotted a huge stretch of moderate snow leading to the unsettlingly named and massive Footloose Headwall. Digging out a bivy, we settled in for the night. Hope pulled out a ‘special’ magazine to ease his mind- thusly I drank another Peruvian and tightly shut my eyes.
The next morning we awoke to our route enveloped in clouds. Should we go? In trying times a man must rise above the doubts of his conscious brain and listen to the deep intuition of his ancient yet ever dying flesh- the mind may say no, but my body was telling me yes. And so we began the crux of the route. Pitch after pitch the loose and technical mixed terrain wore down our will. Then a reprieve: ice that was, in the words of Janis from Mean Girls, “Cold. Shiny. Hard. Plastic.” It raised our spirits, but like all joys in life, it left quickly. Then began a long section of aid on the steepest and blankest wall we had ever seen. At times, I’m not even sure our hooks were on anything at all. The going was slow; all in all we spent five nights on that horrifying wall, the terrors of which I cannot bring myself to talk about. We renamed it the Norbit Wall.
As the final morning of the climb dawned clearly, we spied the Jackass Plain stretched out below like a red carpet upon the golden globe of this strange and beautiful world. I could barely believe what we had been through in the preceding days, but we must embrace the uncertainty of our own personal universes. In the sage words of big-wall climber Johnny Depp, “I pretty much try to stay in a constant state of confusion just because of the expression it leaves on my face,” and, “I may have a feather duster down my pants.”
Glad to have the crux behind us Hope and I began to let our guard down. We hooted and hollered and quoted Airplane! We lit up a doobie. The release was glorious, and in no time at all we stood atop the summit of the mountain of our lives. We had reached tomorrow, the day that is the yesterday of all days hence, a remembrance of the future and fulfillment of the present. The scheme we hatched at The Farcical Cow over too many shots of tequila had reached fulfillment, against the doubts of our friends, family, and psychiatrists. To quote Cowboys and Aliens: “Whether you end up in Heaven or Hell isn’t God’s plan, it’s your own.”
We descended the South Ridge (1) and four days later hobbled into camp, exhausted but alive, having established the East Ridge of Paramount Peak.
As before all serious all alpine attempts, we trained for our climb of line five by watching Vertical Limit every day for one year. Our team leader was Robert Goulet, no relation to Jon Mark Goulet from this thread, who crooned at us as we practiced jamming cams into all visible surfaces of various walls in the rugged streets of downtown Seattle.
The year was 1994 and our favorite grunge-climbing idol had died while attempting a drunken, emotionally fraught, solo climb of rainier equipped with only a guitar tuned to drop D. The news came over the wireless the night before we made our summit push. We sat in our tents at the high camp on lot five of Mount Paramont. We contemplated the loss, the risk, the task ahead of us. Everyone was feeling pretty rotten. Our confidence was wavering.
In the morning, slogging along in darkness, my headlamp occasionally lighting the plastic, cramponed heels of the climber ahead of me, something amazing happened that lifted all of our spirits. Unprompted, Goulet began to quietly sing a haunting rendition of that ancient mountain climbing battle-cry: “Strap On the Nitro” (original version, not the Maroon Five remake) Nobody said anything, but our spirits began to lift and by the time he finished the seventh or eights verse it’s safe to say that we knew we would triumph. Also, we drank a lot of vodka and did crazy shit with our ice axes.
In 1923, Johann Schmidt and Arnim Erskine of the Deutscher und Osterreichischer Alpenverein led an expedition to conquer the Silberhorn, an unclimbed pyramidal peak in the Bolivian Andes. The sharp crest of Serpent Ridge slashes through the enormity of the incredible north face. Approached by ascending through the mature forests along the glacier valley trail, making camps for two weeks before reaching the base of the 2500m climbing route, cresting at 6050m. The summit attempt follows the steep fin of Serpent Ridge in a varied and exciting alpine climb to gain Hydra Cap. After the successful summit, 4 men died on the descent, and the route has only been attempted three times since, all unsuccessful.
Jon Mark Goulet
me and a buddy hit up the first ascent of line 5 once we got to the top we got the best seats for paramounts screening of Vertical limit. but unfortunately we both died on the descent as we both tried to run and jump a casm with our axes outstreched my buddy smashed facefirst bounced off and fell i thought i could do it better so i ran hucked myself off. i forgot it wasnt a movie so i didnt even come close to the other side. the end
With wolf-like fangs jutting out of a hazy blue cloud-blanketed sky, the sharp summits reminded me of the terrible teeth of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. Fierce and from another world, they were the mountains of my childhood dreams, as if drawn in the repetitious triangular patterns that littered my three-ring binders during arduous and mundane school hours. Daring Danica and I leaned gingerly out from our makeshift shelter, and with half-closed eyes and half-frozen fingers, we blindly clawed for the shakily pencil-drawn route descriptions and the duct-taped jar labeled “Kind of Like a Shot of Espresso, and Kind of Like Your Grandma’s Dirt Clump” to suss out our intended route attempt and brew up a morning caffeine concoction. Clearly the shaded face, labeled only as “#4” and blackened like a smudged out break-up letter, caught our attention. Direct, dark, desperate, and steep, it had all the makings of an epic first ascent.
I’ve never climbed it, but the canyon out of frame and lower left has some sick mixed routes in it. Avy danger can be huge, but in a dry winter climbs like “Pair a Mountie” and A V Club are must dos.
May 7, 2010: There we were, ascending “I Can’t Believe I Paid to see This” (line #2) on the 13,420 meter peak known as “Save Your Money, It’ll be on DVD Soon”. These names had come from the journal of a fallen mountaineer, nicknamed Ironman. No one knew Ironman’s real name as his body was found on the mountain at an altitude well above any hope for retrieval. Another climbing party, who abandoned their ascent upon finding Ironman’s corpse, however had managed to bring down his journal that they found in his hands many years ago. I was one of many who read this journal before attempting this mountain. Ironman is believed to be the first and only climber ever to reach the summit as his journal indicates he had been successful but could not handle the descent. This mountain was known to be particularly difficult as the lack of oxygen would cause climbers to hallucinate regularly. Even more bizarre was the fact that these hallucinations were often very similar if not the same among completely different climbers. Ironman documents one common hallucination that was so bad that it nearly caused him to turn back. The journal entry that documented this hallucination had no date, but was titled “The Love Guru”. Ironman stated that this hallucination was so bad that it often gave him splitting headaches and nausea. This was not the only common hallucination that climbers typically experience when attempting to reach the summit. The journal entries titled “Mission Impossible II”, “Tranformers”, “Nacho Libre”, “Sleepy Hollow”, and “Titanic” all describe hallucinations that other climbers claimed to have experienced. One common link is that these hallucinations seemed to be accompanied by a deep feeling of disappointment and frustration. Ironman’s final entries describe visions of stars encircling the mountain upon reaching the summit and the descent. His final words reveal that the visions were just too much for him to finish. I’m not sure if we’ll have the same fate, but we can only hope that we are not a sequel to Ironman’s attempt.
We departed camp IV shortly before midnight on a clear and bitterly cold moonless night. Easy front-pointing up steep snow and ice we gained the exposed ridge that marked the start of Herzog and Mueller’s final assault on the summit tower during their FA (route 3) ten yeras ago. Our path lay elsewhere, though, as James and I had determined to attempt the as-yet unexplored north face (route 4). Negotiating snow mushrooms and a pair of monster cornices we edged along the ridge until we were able to divert to the face itself.
A black wall of rock loomed above us, riddled with thin, ice-filled cracks. The wind whipped at us as we conferred in the safety of an overhang — James thought he had glimpsed a chimney that connected to a small ledge about 150m above us, and if we followed that ledge we might be able to work our way to the long rib of rock connecting to skyline ridge. We agreed to give it a shot. I took lead and began picking my way slowly up through the bands of rock and ice, wedging my tools and crampons into every possible crack and seam. I moved slowly up the gully, placing pro where I could, but for every step I climbed there just seemed an endless tunnel of rock above me. Where was that f*cking ledge? The pump was eating at my arms, and the first whispers of doubt echoed in the back of my mind. Clouds of spindrift filled my sight, and James vanished below in a silver haze.
Then I heard it, the sound that strikes fear into the heart of every mountaineer. Gremlins. Goddamn gremlins. Hooting in their strange language they clamoured about on the sheer rock above, glaring down at me with neon blue eyes. Pinned and trembling against the rock, I felt horrifically exposed. A sudden *thunk* and my right shoulder went numb. The little bastards were hurling rocks at me!
ENOUGH! I shouted, and for a moment they seemed shocked into silence. Then the pelting began again, and I realised that if I were to have any chance at survival I’d have to fight my way to the top. Summoning every last ounce of strength I hauled myself up the chimney until – at last- the ledge appeared to my right. Scarcely a foot wide and downsloping, it was nevertheless a vital reprieve from the climb. Anchoring myself as best I could I set up a belay stance for James and bellowed down at him to start climbing, hoping against hope that he would be able to dodge the attacks of the gremlins.
They seemed far more interested in me, however, and they swarmed closer as I felt the rope shift and tense as James began his ascent. Trying desperately to maintain control of the rope I swung out at the nearest gremlin with my ice axe, impaling it between the eyes and flinging its corpse into the void. This seemed only to enfuriate the rest, however, and they jabbered and howled and lobbed rocks the size of grapefruit straight at my head. Fortunately the angle of the ledge and the steepness of the face itself gave me a degree of cover, and I was able to dodge most of them.
James suddenly appeared at the top of the chimney, eyes wild as he struggled into position next to me.
“What the f-” “NO TIME! We have to go, NOW!”
We free climbed the rib, racing against the gremlins and their relentless attacks. Time and time again I felt their hands claw at me, but they were unable to stop us. Finally we gained the safety of the skyline ridge, and James and I stood back-to-back brandishing our ice tools. The gremlins came at us hard, but gaining the high ground gave us the edge we needed to hold them off. We sent more than a dozen tumbling into space before the rest gave up the attack and retreated.
With no time to lose we pushed on to the summit. By now the sun had risen well above the surrounding peaks, flooding the clouds below with golden light. Step after step, breath rasping in our throats, we climbed and climbed until there – at last! – the top. I shouted in victory, raised my axe over my head in triumph and —
“Come on, man.” James shook my shoulder roughly. I blinked, blearily, staring at the frost-covered inner wall of our tent. “Come on. It’s past 11.” I sighed, then a hacking cough shook my chest. I sat up, bones and body aching beyond belief. I gazed unhappily at my frozen boots and then attempted to slide my feet into their hard shell. James was busy assembling our gear, so I lit the stove and prepared some coffee.
“I think I saw a chimney yesterday that might offer us access to the upper parts of the face”, he said. I grunted in assent. “I dunno though, if we push too far to the east we could get skunked by that overhang.” “Yeah,” I replied, “we might not have a choice, though. Guess we’ll see.”
The bags were packed. Time to go.