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Sam Hennessey, Chantel Astorga and Chris Wright Win AAC’s 2019 Cutting Edge Grants

The projects that each hopes to execute with the grant's funds are all major, sought-after objectives in Pakistan or Nepal.

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The American Alpine Club announced yesterday the recipients of its annual Cutting Edge Grants as Sam Hennessey, Chantel Astorga and Chris Wright. Whereas some of the AAC’s grants enable everyman and everywoman climbers to live out their climbing dreams, regardless of difficulty, the mandate of the Cutting Edge Grant is to allow those at the vanguard of the sport to undertake “expeditions to remote areas featuring unexplored mountain ranges, unclimbed peaks, difficult new routes, first free ascents, or similar world-class pursuits.”

The total funds awarded to Hennessey, Astorga and Wright total $20,000.

In the excerpt from the AAC’s press release below, learn more the projects each recipient will attempt:

Sam Hennessey. Photo: Seth Timpano.

Sam Hennessey ($8,000) to attempt the North Face of Chamlang (7300m) in the Eastern Himalaya of Nepal. Rob Smith, Seth Timpano, Michael Gardner, and grant-winner Sam Hennessey will attempt the unclimbed North Face this coming Autumn, in alpine style. The north face is an impressive feature, rising nearly 2000m directly to the summit ridge. The face has received attention almost yearly for the last decade, with no teams making serious progress due to poor climbing conditions, bad weather, or both. Hennessey has climbed technical routes all over the world, from the Himalaya to Patagonia.

Chantel Astorga. Photo: Anne Gilbert Chase.

Chantel Astorga ($6,000) to attempt Pumari Chhish South (7350m) in Pakistan’s Karakoram. Astorga and Anne Gilbert Chase will attempt the unclimbed 2700m South Face in mixed climbing conditions and with an alpine style approach. In 2018, Astorga and Chase completed the first female ascent of Denali’s Slovak Direct (5.9X M6 W16+, 9,000’). They also completed the first ascent of the unclimbed SW face of Mount Nilkantha in India, with Jason Thompson.

Chris Wright. Photo: Graham Zimmerman.

Chris Wright ($6,000) to attempt Link Sar (7041m) in the Eastern Karakoram Range, Pakistan. The grant will fund expedition expenses for Wright and Graham Zimmerman. They will be joined by Mark Richey and Steve Swenson in attempting the first ascent of Link Sar in alpine style. Wright, Zimmerman, and Swenson previously attempted the peak in 2017 but were unsuccessful due to uncooperative weather. Wright describes Link Sar as, “A stunning, oft-tried, yet unclimbed granite monster in a seldom-visited valley in the heart of the Karakoram…it is undoubtedly one of the most compelling undone peaks of the greater ranges.” Wright has been climbing for 17 years, including 11 expeditions to technical routes in the greater ranges. He holds numerous first ascents in Alaska, India, Nepal, Norway, and more.

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