Six Salve Ambassador Benjamin Erdmann with First Ascent in Kyrgyzstan

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Benjamin Erdmann, September 26th, 2015


I’m a week into decompressing, landing and calibrating from a wild adventure in Kyrgyzstan. Local Alaskan hardman and scholar Samuel Johnson and I went into a remote nook of the Kookshall-Too range, approaching from Bishkek on an old russian tank truck 4WD vehicle, we pulled into the boulder strewn terminal moraine of the Komarova glacier and set into hauling loads.

On ski and with sled we hauled through crevassed ice for a week and a half, moving up and over a narrow mountain pass that dropped us down and into China, where we established basecamp and spent the next 4 weeks.


The storm cycles were relentless and daily, depositing fresh snow and flushing features in frozen waterfalls of spindrift … our small tent slowly sank into the ice as the snow piled up and we melted in. During an early break in the cycles Sammy and I made our way back up and around to an adjacent glaciated arm where the twin headed granite towers of Panfilovski East rose above with a tiered ice feature going up and turning the high corner into a narrow runnel. Straight rock terrain was above that, and over two thousand feet steeply above us.

Six Salve in foreground

Six Salve in foreground

We fluently swapped leads through ice runnels and mixed rock steps till the final crux rock pitch was sent solidly and gracefully by Sammy, nice!

Super technical and steep the pitch kicked back beyond vertical and opened into thick off-width, the moves leaning back and over the expansive exposure below.

We rappelled the line quick and efficiently to make it back to basecamp on skis and by headlamp.


The storm cycles continued and our attempts on another line, the big one, were thwarted by atrocious avalanche conditions. Our final attempt found us 3/4 the way up the 5 thousand foot ice line and 3 days into the attempt.


Climbing in bursts and ducking away to the side to sit out the deposition. The spindrift avalanches were triggering with increasing frequency as moisture freight trained through the cirque.

Our choice to retreat was confirmed with an apocalyptic wind event the next day.


Loading up base camp and skiing back over the pass and into Kyrgyzstan, we both felt strong inspiration to return. It was a harsh area, and so darn difficult to get to, the storms crushed the land and made climbing impossible at times, but some moments in those small windows of weather it all comes together and crux moves are floated.

Kyrgyzstan FA

We sent the first ascent of the granite tower Panfilovski East by “Flight of the Zephyr” at AI4R M7.

Portrait of Ben in El Chalten, Argentina

Portrait of Ben in El Chalten, Argentina

What an adventure indeed. Many times we think to ourselves, were I a little more stable financially I would totally go do …  And yet, that sense of stability seems to be always fleeting. Is this really just a mindset that we’re missing, an understanding about the nature of things that we lack?  Either way, reading accounts like this of epic adventures of people who are going out there and DOING it – it’s inspiring to say the least. Good On Ya Ben! Keep the dream alive!

Six Salve Ambassador Ben Erdmann and Team Attempt North Face of Annapurna, Shut Down by Earthquakes

“Because Nepal has no industry, no export, no factories, the primary natural resource is the tourism from the mountains. The trekking, climbing, flight seeing, transportation, tea houses and trinkets run the economy. One of the biggest things that can be done in the next years is to simply visit, to trek a circuit and stop at all the houses to buy a 25 cent cup of masala tea.” – B.E.

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Ben Erdmann, May 28th, 2015

Two months ago our team, Jess Roskelley, Don Bowie and myself left to Nepal to make and attempt on the North Face of Annapurna-as a single rope team of 3 without using supplemental oxygen, fixed ropes, or sherpas… going for the 8000 meter giant in Alpine style. We were high on the mountain, having just the day before come down from camp 2 with the weather closing in when the first 7.8 earthquake hit, its epicenter only some 10 miles from our basecamp.

We were in a safe area, a small pocket of protection in the lateral moraine when a thousand avalanches were set off all around us by the earth shaking. The largest most devastating quake of 80 years. We bailed outta there through no small feat of endurance and immediately went into help with the relief efforts in the villages in the lower Manaslu region, the Gorkha Valley in an area where the landslides had fully cut off access for thousands of locals. Our small team of climbers, with only our efficiency at covering mountainous terrain and calculating risk, was able to access a stretch of terrain on foot that covered a dozen villages, fully devastated when homes made of dry-stacked stone shift and crumble in the quake.

We would arrive at a village site of some hundreds, meet with the leader, hear again that rice, dhal, oil and salt and tarps are needed… they will be living in tent camps till rebuilding can happen.

We then find and designate a landing zone marking the lat/long and satellite phone calling it into the UN controlled heli delivering supplies, at times the heli was just a few hours behind our movement. Then repeat. There were some 60 aftershocks, then another 7.3 hit. We felt it all. Our efforts were a small fraction of the initial response, the real work will be done in the years to come.

Rebuilding a village of 1200 homes, homes with large extended families living together, displaced just before the rains of the monsoon season set in for the following months. Now and to come is when they will need the most help. These Nepalese people are of the most beautiful, well adapted and resilient humans on Earth.

Our team plans to return in 3 months to attempt the face again.


Six Salve on the Road: Indian Creek, Utah

Cracked hands were salvaged from the unrelenting vertical red earth of southern Utah’s infinite Indian Creek Wingate Sandstone. Crack jamming creates cracked and dry hands for even the most seasoned climbers, but this time an early season ass-whooping was in store for our group at the Creek.

It was an incredible trip for me, I was still healing from a bad ankle sprain that I got while bouldering a few weeks earlier, so there was no jamming for me, but I was able to gather some incredible footage, and some candid interviews from the group about the nature of climbing, and the meaning of life. Read on!

Sarah: What is the part of climbing that you love the most, mental or physical?

Kyle chalks upKyle Judson, Six Salve Ambassador: “The opportunity to overcome fear and mental limitations. I like the preparation, the clear head. To completely relax into and focus on a climb. It helps me stay open to whatever comes, whatever the rock brings. The physical limitation is another thing I like to overcome; getting worked in a stressful situation, and coming out stronger for it. The endorphins hit, and then a wave of calmness. The body totally surprises you.”

Kyle’s Mantra: Always tie in before putting your shoes on. Once the shoes are on it’s business time.

Melissa in the Creek

Melissa Oberg:The community that I get to spend time with makes climbing enjoyable for me. I love infusing fear into life in a controlled way. It gives me a sense of accomplishment, for pushing through the fear, which is very rewarding.

Sienna FrySienna Fry:Rock climbing gives you an outlet to face your fears, and to know that you can make sound and rational decisions when fearful. It’s affirming and telling about how you attack problems in the real world. Climbing is a mirror to look back on how you work through things.”

Sophia Cinnamon

Sophia Cinnamon:  Climbing provides an intense, singular focus that I yet to find in other pursuits. I love using my whole body, but I think it’s more a mental exercise than physical. To acknowledge pain,fear, etc., and move beyond the discomfort allows for type of moving mediation.”

Chris SchellerChris Scheller:Rock Climbing is the closest thing to meditation that I do. I see the value in slowing my busy mind down, and climbing gets me there. I enjoy the impossible nature of climbing. Looking up at a rock and imagining climbing it can seem crazy at times. It’s like unlocking the keys to a great puzzle.”

Sarah Lou rigging the shot!Sarah Louisignau, Six Salve Creator: “The views were incredible and the weather couldn’t have been better. For my first time to Indian Creek, not climbing wasn’t so bad!  I was able to rig a fixed line to get some sweet shots, and the approaches were more than a challenge for me in my Ortho Boot! To me climbing gives me the chance to face fear and practice being present. I teach yoga and meditation, and for yogis, climbing is the perfect real life opportunity to practice mindfulness. The way you place your feet, the way you breathe, manage fearful thoughts, and adapt to what’s in front of you. There’s no room for big egos after a day of receiving humility from the rock. My rock climbing friends are some of the most self-reflective and evolved humans I know, simply because of this humility.


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Six Salve Ambassador Benjamin Erdmann Reports on a Season in Patagonia

One of the illustrious Six Salve Ambassadors, Ben Erdmann, has spent the winter climbing in Patagonia’s most brutal alpine environments. His most recent accomplishments include:

  • Summiting Cerro friggin Torre
  • Establishing a 13 pitch First Ascent on the W. Face of Guillamet
  • Ascent of the North Pilar of Fitz Roy

His updates have been inspiring to say the least, and make this adventure in salve-making all the more fulfilling.  Please enjoy the beautiful words and photos – share and comment below!

November 13, 2014

Benjamin Erdmann: 

The V’s of geese are migrating South, look up! It must be time to follow suit and chase the season-Patagonia bound with Jess Roskelley. Here in classic swaggerdly sway, in the Valley of the Torre. To another season of Chalten life, the change of pace and the patient wait –


December 17th, 2014

Patagonia life sweeps me away again for the season, of stepping away from the digital world and checking out… after all, this is exactly why we do this 🙂 Having just returned to the small off-the-grid town of Chalten from a successful send of Cerro Torre – Jess Roskelley (my main man) and I are on the recuperation program after several days with out food and a ridiculous ice cap traverse escape… whew! Internet is by satellite down here and cuts out for weeks at a time, please take any photos or video from fbook and use at will! this is really the only way we have been able to upload to the outside world.

One of the subjects that comes to mind first regarding the way my climbing practice affects my (Yoga) practice on the mat (and vice versa) is about energy reserves. When we are on Alpine pushes and the vessel of our being is run dry of food and water, where the energy we tap into has nothing to do with caloric intake, we touch on the immense reserve of energy contained within all of us… one that is hidden beneath the surface of layers of digestive muck. This is a subject that fascinates me… of what happens at hour 30 of continuous movement.

Light and Love as we approach the Solstice – in time I’ll be in touch with photos I have been taking for Six Salve: of worn hands.


December 26th, 2015

For 7 seasons I have looked wide eyed at Cerro Torre, her architecture commanding respect and evoking apprehension to approach those wild walls. Now we have danced – the 3 of us – and I understand much deeper just why her magnetic attraction is so powerful… because of the impossibility of design. Saludos – to the connection with my partner that grows stronger as our energies accumulate and create  – to the welds between us – my main man, Jess Roskelley.


January 6th, 2015

…and with a small lapse in the persistent storms we found new terrain, following splitters for the First Ascent of this line on the West Face of Guillamet – climbed free and clean at exceptionally sustained technical difficulties. Light is Right – Keep it Tight!


February 17th, 2015

Sarah buen dia!

Yahh! I came across strongly over these passing past months in the south, double six shooter racked for the repair from the grittiest of alpine granite goblins. I feel my feet just starting to touch the ground again, re acclimating to North America pace –

Life in Chalten is to turn off the cell phone for 3 months, max out the visa, only get in a car twice…maybe, and dig into the landscape fully. We run the trails that spiderweb from the edges of town, we circle the lengthy boulder fields of superb granite sculptures, we Practice down by the river de la Vueltas… sinking the roots of each foot into the ferrous tierra, the magnetic land abuzz from the Towers…

Lots of time spent standing upside down on our heads!

Well in short, I summited Cerro Friggin Torre with my good friend Jess Roskelley, then established a 13 pitch first ascent on the W. Face of Guillamet with my man Jonathen Schaeffer, and wrapped it up neat and tight with an ascent of the North Pilar of Fitz Roy with titan legend Mark Westman.

This body is dancing better than ever!

Attached are a bunch of photos from the trip, Ill send along another slew in a second… some of just “Hands”.






Bowlines Are Neat

Knots Are Neat: The Bowline

How to tie the Bowline

How to tie the Bowline

From Wikipedia:  The Bowline is an ancient and simple knot used to form a fixed loop at the end of a rope. It has the virtues of being both easy to tie and untie; most notably, it is easy to untie after being subjected to a load. The bowline is sometimes referred as King of the knots because of its importance.

The bowline is well known as a rescue knot for such purposes as rescuing people who might have fallen down a hole, or off a cliff onto a ledge. They would put it around themselves and sit on the loop. This makes it easy to heft them up away from danger.

From Six Salve Ambassador, Justin Wright:

It’s quick to tie and easy to untie even if used with extreme loads.  You can use it as a static connecting knot in the case of hauling gear up a big wall, or in rigging, using it to haul points up to the roof-grid from the stadium floor.

How to tie a Bowline

from wikipedia

There are lots of variations on this knot, so stay tuned for more in the Knots are Neat series!

Clove Hitches are Neat

Knots are Neat: The Clove Hitch

From ON ROPE, North American Vertical Rope Techniques:

Clove Hitch

Clove Hitch

The common Clove Hitch, sometimes called the Waterman’s Knot, is an excellent utility knot.  It’s often used while rigging, during patient packaging, making a rescue bridle, and facilitating tree takedowns.  Analyzing the situation, the rigger will realize there is a left and right way to tie this hitch depending on which way the tail of the rope leaves the hitch.  The technician must think ahead and decide which way the hitch should be oriented.  If securing the hitch, it should be done by looping the rope in the direction of the established loops.  This will avoid bending the rope backward, losing the integrity of the hitch’s loops.

From Wikipedia:

This knot is particularly useful where the length of the running end needs to be adjustable, since feeding in rope from either direction will loosen the knot to be tightened at a new position. With certain types of cord, the clove hitch can slip when loaded. In modern climbing rope, the clove hitch will slip to a point, and then stop slipping.[3] With smaller diameter cords, after being heavily weighted it may become difficult to untie. It is also unreliable when used on a square or rectangular post, rather than round.

Clove HitchTips From Ambassador Justin Wright:

Quick and adjustable.  Load bearing. Great for belay backup.

Munter Hitches are Neat

Knots Are Neat: The Munter Hitch

MunterFrom Wikipedia:  The Munter hitch, also known as the Italian hitch or the Crossing Hitch,[1] is a simple knot, commonly used by climbers and cavers as part of a life-lining or belay system. To climbers, this knot is also known as HMS, the abbreviation for the German term Halbmastwurfsicherung, meaning half clove hitch belay. This technique can be used with a special “pear-shaped” HMS locking carabiner, or any locking carabiner wide enough to take two turns of the rope. The ‘Munter hitch’ is named after a Swiss mountain guide, Werner Munter, who popularised its use in mountaineering.

munter2 The hitch is simply a set of wraps using a rope or cord around an object, generally a round object like a pipe, pole or more commonly, a carabiner. Its main use is as a friction device for controlling the rate of descent in belay systems.

Tips From Ambassador Justin Wright:

The Munter is valuable for many reasons, but the most common is in place of a belay device.  The Munter is a must know for any recreational climber in the backcountry.  Climbing partners and gear can be belayed safely with this simple hitch.