Joining the Tribe

By Alan Goldbetter – the best way to describe Alan is as an “adventurist”. From Norwegian bigwalls to the alpine climbs of Patagonia, Alan enjoys climbs that promise good adventure and questionable success, in far-flung locations. Just a few of his quixotic quest have been; establishing new alpine rock routes in Patagonia and New Zealand, climbing on the sandstone towers of Elbsandstein, Germany using only knots for protection, and attempting to learn the Finnish language. Currently, Alan shares his passion for adventure with others through multimedia presentations and via his blog: https://alangoldbetter.wordpress.com/.

It’s not everyday you get to climb with a personal legend. For me it happened when I was nineteen: the day I got to climb with Misty Mountain owner, Goose Kearse. It was during my second season of guiding for Seneca Rock Climbing School. After work one day while hanging around the porch of the Gendarme, Arthur Kearns, owner of SRCS, introduced me to his long-time friend, Goose. In the middle of a short climbing road trip, Goose was looking for a climbing partner and it seemed I was the logical choice.

Seneca Rainbow Misty Mountain
An exceptionally beautiful moment at Seneca. Photo by Tess Ferguson.

I began climbing at age fourteen while growing up in Winchester, VA. A year or so later, I began working after-school at my local outdoor store. During this time I had occasional interactions with Goose when I would call the Misty Mountain factory to place an order. As the years went on, my appetite for climbing continued to grow. I especially took an interest in the more adventurous aspects of climbing: trad and multi-pitch. Receiving my driver’s license helped me to satiate these needs. Trips across the South East, from the smooth slabs of Stone Mountain to the steep walls of Seneca Rocks, were plentiful. I spent my 18th birthday studying for my Wilderness First Responder course, the last requirement before becoming a climbing instructor.

Stone Mountain Climbing Misty Mountain
Climbing The Great Arch at Stone Mountain, NC. Photo by Kneil Place.

My afternoon out climbing with Goose was memorable, but not for the reasons one might expect. No, we did not send the hardest routes out there. No, we did not epic late into the night. We were just two rather unexceptional climbers enjoying some area classics. We laughed. We got scared. We climbed 5.7s. At the end of the day I was struck by just how normal and organic it all was; just two folks out for a fun day on the rocks.

At the end of the next day, Goose left for the New River Gorge. A few years later, I would follow his same course, though on a slightly more permanent time frame. I spent a season working for the wonderful folks at Waterstone Outdoors, climbing on the world’s greatest stone, living the dirtbag dream. After my years of tutelage in the Southeast, I was ready to take my climbing to more remote and adventurous destinations. I first went to the sandstone towers of Elbsandstein, Germany, where I learned to place knots tied in cord as my only lead protection. I then experienced the joys and terror of gritstone climbing in the Peak District of England. The UK was followed by Mexico, then Scotland, New Zealand, Thailand, and many, many others.

New Zealand Climbing Misty Mountain
Attempting a new route in the Remarkables, New Zealand.

Fast forward to the beginning of 2016. My partner and I have spent the last eight months planning and preparing for our first proper climbing expedition, a journey that would take us deep into the wilds of the Northern Patagonian Andes. Having never climbed in Patagonia before and with dreams of opening a new route on an almost 3000′ granite tower, we were feeling a bit doubtful in our abilities. At that time, we reached out to a few select companies seeking small discounts on necessary equipment. Misty Mountain came through for us. They created custom harnesses suited specifically for our task. More important than the simple financial savings, it was the added confidence that my partner and I shared knowing that others believed in us that meant the most.

Patagonia Climbing Misty Mountain
Summit of Piritas Central, Argentina.

Looking back, our trip couldn’t have been more successful. A new route was established, some hard lessons about climbing in the greater ranges were (l)earned, and close friendships were forged. Now, after an 18-month hiatus filled lots of work and too few adventures, I am eagerly looking forward to my next expedition to Alaska’s remote Arrigetch Peaks, and being the newest member of the amazing team of Misty Mountain Ambassadors.

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