A Discussion with CAMP USA Athlete Scott Bennett

 

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What is your primary means of adventure, AKA what gets you most psyched?
Rock climbing in the mountains

Invent your dream adventure by combining five places, disciplines, pitches, peaks, environments, etc. and stacking them together into a combination. Why did you pick each part?
My dream multi?sport adventure would take place in Asia, perhaps Kyrgyzstan or Pakistan. Together with an equally stoked, or insane, partner, explore remote mountains by biking climbing and pack?rafting. The goal would be to travel, self?contained, for a month or more, and climb at least one significant route. I enjoy logistical challenges, and obviously a trip of this nature would require ruthlessly efficient packing. These slower, human?powered means of transport would also put us in unique situations, relying on locals for supplies and beta. I’ve never used a pack raft, but it seems like the perfect compliment to biking, allowing us to descend otherwise inaccessible terrain. For me, an adventure like this would represent the ultimate combination of athleticism, exploration, and creativity.

Describe 5 climbs, trips, or moments that have defined you as a mountain athlete:

Eating tuna with a nut tool, Red River Gorge, Kentucky. In 2007, having been gym climbing for a few years, I was going to college in Ohio, when I took my first outdoor climbing trip to the Red River Gorge. A professor at my school, Dr. Karl Sandin, had volunteered to take me and few friends out and teach us the strange art of “trad”. The first hour of this experience bore little resemblance to the sexy pictures I’d seen in climbing mags, as we wandered and bushwhacked through the steamy Kentucky undergrowth. Our goal, the Jewel Pinnacle, had looked obvious from the car, but from down in the bottom of this hollow it was nowhere to be seen. Finally stumbling to the base of the route, we thrutched up two short pitches of 5.6 to gain the summit. Celebrating on the summit with a picnic, the lack of a utensil for our can of tuna presented a momentary obstacle, until Karl started digging in with his handy nut tool. Sweaty, dirty, and slightly bloodied from the handjams, the metallic taste of the nut tool mixing with the salty fish, I regretted all of the time I’d spent in the gym. I had found my true calling: “trad”.
Bailing off “Beggar’s Buttress”, Lower Cathedral Rock, Yosemite NP. 2008 was my first season in Yosemite, and things were going well! Thanks to a patient teacher, and perfect California weather, I’d already made ascents of the Salathe and Nose routes on El Capitan. With a partner I’d met the night before in Camp 4, I attempted “Beggar’s Buttress”, a classic long 5.11 on Lower Cathedral. Halfway up the 300m route, we were off?route and facing an incoming storm; it was an obvious time to bail. For the first time in my short climbing career, I found myself building anchors, leaving gear, and re?hashing the ignominious decision in my head. Since then, I’ve made bailing an integral part of my climbing!
Solo linkup of Prodigal Sun (5.8 C2, 250m)and Lunar Ecstasy (5.10 C2+, 250m) in Zion NP. Back in 2010, I had spent a few seasons roadtripping and climbing around the Western US, and had begun to feel comfortable tackling longer routes. Despite having never soloed a bigwall, one day in Zion I decided to attempt this linkup, hoping to push myself in a friendly environment. Over 16 hours of trial and error, I completed both routes, topping out Lunar X under a full moon in warm spring air. This experience of self?reliance and problem solving gave me a confidence to attempt ever bigger objectives, eventually in much less forgiving environments.
First Ascent of “Las Vent’uras” (5.11 A0 550m), Aguja Guillaumet, Argentine Patagonia. My first trip to Patagonia, first time on a glacier, and first attempt at a new route; February of 2011 was definitely a defining moment in life. This route, on the steep West face of Guillamet, provided everything for which we had hoped: perfect granite, amazing splitters, daunting exposure, and adventurous route?finding. Combing the words for wind, windows (as in weather windows), and good fortune (ventura), we had our new route and a name to match.
Falling without a rope in the Flatirons. Out for an afternoon jog/scramble with my friend Clayton, back in May of 2013, we were enjoying the spring sun on the low?angled Flatirons in Boulder. After climbing up and down many little formations, up to maybe 5.6, I was feeling fluid and confident. High on the mountainside, I looked up at a steep 30m wall, split by a nice handcrack, and decided to scramble on up it. Pulling on huge jugs, I was just about to reach the handcrack, when my hold simply pulled off the wall. About 12m off the deck, I had just enough time to flip once and think “oh f^%&” before I slammed down onto my back and butt. I had been soloing on “easy” rock for years, though over time the definition of easy had expanded to include this chossy, steep, and completely unknown route. I escaped this incident with only minor fractures, and I was back to climbing just two months later. Ever since, however, I’ve been forced to reconsider such impulsive risks, with their fleeting rewards and potentially life?changing costs.
Describe your most memorable night in the mountains:
My most memorable night in the mountains was in February of 2011, rappelling off Aguja Mermoz with my friend Blake. We had completed the first free ascent of the route “Cosas Patagonicas” (5.11+? 650m) just as the sun set, and spent all night getting lost and battling stuck ropes. This wasn’t the first or last time that I’d pulled an all?nighter on a descent, but it stands out because we returned to base camp just as the sun was rising. Boot?skiing back down the snowfield to our tent, 24 hours since we had set out, gave me a sense of completing a natural cycle. Anticipation on the approach, determination on the climb, triumph on the summit, discomfort and fear on the descent, and satisfaction on returning safely to camp; all in one rotation of the planet.

What has scared or intimidated you as a mountain athlete?
Having my heroes, much wiser and more experienced than me, killed in the mountains.

What would your adventure partners be most surprised to learn about you from before the time when they met you?
In High School, I was a geography geek. I won my state (Michigan) and competed in the National Geography bee. The answer I missed, knocking me from the tournament: the Sea of Azov (of course!).

What are your top 5 all?time favorite pieces of CAMP equipment?

Nano ‘biners
All Mountain tools
X Lite Tools
Laser Harness
Speed Helmet

Why are you a CAMP athlete?
Because CAMP makes the most innovative, lightweight, and flat?out BEST gear for adventure climbing!

Tick List

It meant a lot to me when I climbed:

The Wasp (5.12d, 30m, Rocky Mountain NP, CO)
Moonlight Buttress (5.12, 250m, Zion NP, UT)
A linkup of the NW Ridge of Aguja Mermoz and the North Pillar of Cerro Fitz Roy (5.11 A1, 2km, Argentine Patagonia)
The East Buttress of the Angel (5.10, 1100m, Revelation Mtns, Alaska)
A linkup of five major towers in Castle Valley: Castleton, Rectory, Priest, Sister Superior, and Convent. (5.11+, 500m, Castle Valley, UT)
The adventure, route or race I had to train the hardest for was:
Climbing the Naked Edge (5.11, 200m, Eldorado Canyon, CO) in 25 minutes, round trip, for it’s fastest known time. This has been a hotly contested speed record, and my partner Brad Gobright and I had to train and practice the climb for many months before setting our current time. We run the approach, solo 80m of 5.4 to access the route, simulclimb 120m of techy 5.11, and then romp down the 4th?class descent in a ballistic 25 minutes. We definitely had to improve our fitness levels to achieve this, and it made the reward so much sweeter.

The adventure, route or race that wrecked me the most was:
In 2011, Blake Herrington and I left El Chalten, Argentina with light packs, heading for the remote Cerro Pollone on the eastern edge of the massive continental ice field. Over six days, we approached and climbed a new route on the East Pillar of Pollone (5.11d, 800m) then made the first integral traverse of Pollone’s summit ridge, and the second ascent of both the summits. We then hiked back to town over some glaciers and ridges. By the last few miles of the hike, I was exhausted and starving, but thankful for an amazing outing!

I most want an all?expenses?paid trip to:
Olympus Mons, Mars.

Your short list of climbing or adventure goals this year:

North Buttress of Mt Hunter, Alaska.
K6 Central, Pakistan.
Hallucinogen Wall, Black Canyon NP, Colorado.

 

Big shout out to CAMP USDA for sending Scott to another Michigan Ice Fest!!