Life and Death with Charlie Sassara and Jack Tackle (Ep. 49: LIVE!)
the Sharp End Podcast
In this special live-audience recording of the Sharp End, Alaska climbing legend Charlie Sassara recalls an epic survival story and rescue from 2002. Sassara's climbing partner, Jack Tackle, was clobbered by rockfall, knocked unconscious, and broke his back high on the unclimbed north face of Mt. Augusta. Tackle regained consciousness and together they determined there was only one course of action: Sassara had to leave his partner tied to a tiny ledge, rappel off the mountain, and try to get help. Survival was far from assured...for either man.This heartfelt episode was recorded in front of a large audience at Alaska Mountaineering and Hiking in Anchorage in late December, at an event put on by the Alaska Section of the American Alpine Club. There's a Q&A session with the audience at the end. A note for listeners: The audio from this live recording has various stage and audience noise as well as occasional profanity.The Sharp End is presented by Mammut, with additional sponsorship for this episode from Kavu. This podcast is produced by the American Alpine Club.
Many years ago, I saw Jack Tackle give a slideshow in Anchorage. I was in my early to mid-twenties at the time, and mountain climbing was the only thing that mattered. That evening, I listened intently as Jack described icefaces, corniced ridges, and run-out pitches that had long captured my imagination. But I was also impressed by the life-wisdom Jack imparted. His laid back style, coupled with a philosophy about the importance of vision, commitment and trust, resonated in a way that made sense to me. I remember walking away that night feeling inspired, and ready to apply some of Jack’s hard-earned wisdom into my own climbs. But it’s funny how life works. Shortly after the slideshow, I sustained an injury climbing, that effectively ended my career, and irrevocably changed my life forever. Although I went on to make a new path in art and music, I can say without a doubt, that my life was never the same without climbing. • Jack too, experienced life-altering injuries that could have ended his climbing career. In 2000, while guiding in South America, he contracted Guillain-Barre, a rare and sometimes fatal disorder in which your body's immune system attacks the nerves. Although Jack eventually regained his strength, the disease created lasting effects, some of which still linger today. There was also the accident on Mt. Augusta in the Wrangell-Saint Elias, where jack was struck by a falling rock. The impact broke his neck, leaving him paralyzed on the face, and stranded fifty miles from the nearest road. The ensuing high-stakes rescue would become the stuff of legends in the mountaineering world, but for Jack, it was an opportunity to move forward in life, with a new perspective. Fifteen years later, and despite some limitations from his injuries, Jack is still climbing at a high level around the world. Over the years, I’ve watched his career from afar, and often wondered how his brush with Guillain-Barre and the accident on Augusta affected him. • That’s why I felt fortunate to sit down and have a face-to-face conversation with Jack this last fall. We talked at length about his climbing career in Alaska, the Himalaya and elsewhere. But we also talked about his life outside the mountains, and how he’s managed to navigate thru challenging injuries and situations. Turns out, if it weren’t for his friends, family and partnerships in climbing, he wouldn’t be where he is today. Links: https://www.patreon.com/thefirnline https://www.thefirnline.com https://www.alaskarockgym.com
On episode 18, we’ll delve into the first of a two-part series with venerable North American alpinist, Jack Tackle. With his unmistakable baritone and classic unassuming style, Jack is the epitome of a true Alaskan “hardman”. His gutsy first ascents up climbs like the Isis Face on Denali, the Diamond Arete on Mount Hunter, and the Elevator Shaft on Mount Johnson, have cemented his place in the storied history of Alaskan alpinism. • Recently, I got to sit down with Jack at his Castle Valley yurt, to talk about his forty year career as an alpinist, and the lessons learned along the way. We discussed everything from his early forays in the woods, to his most intense experiences in the mountains and in life. It was an enlightening and meaningful conversation that I felt privileged to be a part of. • Links: http://www.patreon.com/thefirnline http://www.thefirnline.com http://www.evanphillips.net http://www.alaskarockgym.com
Jack Tackle is a renowned alpinist most known for his climbing in Alaska over the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and 2000’s . He’s done over 35 major expeditions to Alaska and 17 first ascents. In 2001, Jack was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre, a rare condition in which the immune system attacks the nerves. In this episode, Jack talks about dealing with the syndrome, what he looks for in climbing partners, and mentorship. Jack is the former director of the American Alpine Club and a guide for Exum Mountain Guides in Jackson WY.
On Episode 82 of the Enormocast, I sit down in a magical place with mountaineering legend and Bozeman native, Jack Tackle. From the Montana to the Himalaya to Patagonia, and most importantly, to Alaska, Jack Tackle has set light and fast standards since before that was a “thing”. This dogged, humble, hardman is still revered … Continue reading "Episode 82: Jack Tackle – True Grit."