Ice Climber Aaron Mulkey Joins the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Team
Today, we're genuinely stoked to welcome Aaron Mulkey (Instagram @ColdFear / Facebook @ColdFearWY) to the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador Team. If you're unfamiliar with Mulkey, it may be because you're unfamiliar with the sport of ice climbing, too. But within that world, he's known for his relentless and unconventional approach to the pursuit, prioritizing labor-intensive explorations of new locations and lines over chasing audiences in established ones.
It's safe to gamble that the word "pioneer" is bound to find its way into any description of Mulkey. Whether he's in his backyard in the Cody, Wyoming region he calls home (he's established over 100 first ascents in the area alone), or in some isolated backcountry around the globe, big mileage hikes or multi-day scouting missions to find unclimbed routes or potential ones for the next winter keep him up at night and get him going in the morning. The less that's known about what he's set out to scale, the more he can approach it with an uncluttered, unbiased mind and make the endeavor his own.
What's more, in this day and age of carefully curated Instagram goals–#vanlifing, and the ubiquitous inspiration that comes from, "quitting X and selling everything for 'the dreams'"–it's oddly rare to see a spotlight shown on an individual who, while incredibly talented, balances the development of that talent against the amount of free time and day-to-day responsibilities the rest of us can relate to. Mulkey works a full-time job as a VP of Sales and Operations managing around 800 employees for a large health care company; he's married, and has kids, too.
That's just one aspect of where Hyperlite Mountain Gear CEO Mike St. Pierre's admiration for Mulkey comes from, and why, along with the rest of us, he's pumped to bring him into the family. "I first met Aaron seven years ago through mutual friends in the Bozeman, Montana ice climbing community. Aaron was well respected, with a great reputation among those folks and with the brands he was representing." After that first introduction, "I'd run into Aaron several times a year at various ice climbing events and the Outdoor Retailer show, but it wasn't until we almost crossed paths on a 30-day river trip down the Grand Canyon that we began to talk more regularly. I messaged him about how gnarly the weather had been while we were both out there, and it paved the way to more frequent conversations. This year, the planets finally aligned to develop a more formal partnership." St. Pierre concludes, "I've always had high regard for Aaron not only as a climber but also as an executive with a full-time job. It's something most people don't know about him, but it shows his dedication and drive, and it's one more positive reason I wanted to see him join the Hyperlite team. Aaron is a valuable asset and an amazing human being, and I'm looking forward to many years of working together."
Mulkey's fortitude and diligence pairs incredibly well with the ethos of Hyperlite Mountain Gear: straightforward, experience-driven, and focused on performance. With the sheer number of miles (both vertical and horizontal) that Mulkey has put into his search for unknown routes, and the trials and tribulations he's gone through to reach them, we're sure that his knowledge will bring immeasurable benefit to our product development team, and the passionate outdoor adventurers who get after it using our gear.
Look forward to trip reports and informative and educational posts from Aaron on our blog in weeks and months to come, because despite his preferred way to adventure, his insight will be something we can all warm up to.
Aaron Mulkey’s Climbing Prowess–A Snapshot of Firsts
- One of the pioneers ice climbing and kayaking in Wyoming
- First ascent of Morning Glory, WI6 in Wyoming's North Fork Valley
- First ascent of The Gambler, WI7 in Wyoming's South Fork Valley
- First ascent of Talk is Cheap, WI6 M6 in Wyoming's North Fork Valley
- First ascent of Sons of Anarchy, WI5 M8R 2,500ft in Hemsedal, Norway
- First ascent of Fantasy Factory, W6 M10 300ft in Wyoming's South Fork Valley
Aaron Mulkey has been actively ice climbing and exploring since 1997, and in addition to his executive day job, is also the proprietor of ColdFear.com – a community site for news, route guides, gear, and a portal into the Cody, Wyoming climbing scene.