by Kelly Cordes
I gotta dig down, I gotta go monk. Ever seen Zoolander? Of course you have. Me, too – about a hundred times. It’s a hilarious spoof on the world of male modeling, and there’s that classic scene of the “walk-off” challenge when, between rounds, Hansel digs deep and pulls out what’s needed to win the comp. Thus it seemed fitting to Jonny Copp and me, in 2003, to name our new route “Going Monk.” High on an obscure peak in the East Fork of the Kahiltna, as a storm rolled in, we continued, driven, summiting in a whiteout and fighting through a spooky descent.
I wrote about inspiration, Jonny and my love for climbing in the mountains in a recent piece, The Art of Disaster Style, published in the latest Elevation Outdoors. Funny thing is that for the photo of Jonny on our route, they wrote a serious caption referencing our route name (Jonny would have loved it!). Same with a Rock & Ice editor back then, when they did a news piece and the editor asked, “Did you guys name it ‘Going Monk’ because you saw God?” Me, completed flummoxed: “Nah man, haven’t you seen Zoolander?”
Flash forward to ten days ago: Justin Woods and I sit on a ledge 12 pitches up the Eye Tooth. Massive avalanches roar through the cirque, crashing down from the mid-day heat melting the snowpack. Alive. We’re totally safe, out on a pillar, though Justin hacks like a smoker – or, to extend the Zoolander thing – a longtime coal miner.
[Black lung and all, Justin Woods leading on the west face of the Eye Tooth, Alaska. Photo: Kelly Cordes]