Peter Croft (Expedition Lead)

Peter Croft (Lead)
Conrad Anker

While the focus of alpinism often shines on the Himalaya or the European Alps, Peter Croft has uncovered an unclimbed challenge practically in his own backyard, in the Central Sierra Range of California. The Complete Palisades Ridge, he has discovered, has never been climbed in its entire length.

Perhaps that's because "The Full Monty," from Bishop Pass to Taboose Pass, takes in sixteen miles - about 84,500 feet - of non-stop climbing. The route follows a razor-sharp ridge crest of unpredictable rock, which undulates over dozens of summits up to 14,000 feet above sea level. Such a jaunt, Peter gleefully notes, will produce, "the mother of all spankings."

Peter, a resident of Bishop, California, is a seasoned rock and alpine expert, and a back country aficionado of the Sierra Range. At 52 years of age, he remains as avid a climber as he's ever been during his four-decade career. His resume includes speed records for ascents of Yosemite giants like El Capitan, and paving the way for the free-solo game with the first ropeless ascent of Astro Man (5.11), in Yosemite, in 1987. What his resume overlooks, however, is his voracious appetite for climbing. At climbing areas like Mount Arapiles in Australia he's been known to undertake marathon soloing sessions, ascending, without a rope, as many as a hundred 5.10 and 5.11 routes in a day. Peter's partner for the Full Monty, Conrad Anker, also has a life-long connection to the Sierras; Along with his adventures in the greater ranges of the world, a few of which took him to the summit of Everest, Conrad has made scores of El Capitan ascents.

Their vision for the complete Palisades Traverse is to tackle it in pure alpine style, carrying only what can be squeezed into a backpack, climbing light and fast and completing the route in a single, grueling push. In years past, a climbing team managed an eight mile section, installing supply caches at various points of the traverse. By foregoing this luxury, Peter and Conrad will exponentially up the ante in endurance, purity of style and commitment. By the climb's end, Peter notes, "we'll be sunburned, scraggly and starving mountain castaways." And that's exactly how he likes it.