Photo by Anne Skidmore Russell
New Hampshire’s mountains may be small compared to Western ranges, but they offer some ferocious terrain and hearty individuals. We recently chatted with hunter, climber and adventurer Bayard Russell. As we write this, he’s on his way to the Hayes Range, Alaska with partners Elliot Gaddy and Michael Wejchert to make their second attempt on the unclimbed south face of Mt. Deborah (12,540′). The threesome won the prestigious Mugs Stump Award.
Their plan: to climb a giant (i.e. 4500-foot) face, traverse a 1.5-mile ridge “across a classic, horrifying, double-corniced traverse,” to the summit of the mountain, and then descend to the other side of the mountain, and climb a pass and hike “six to ten miles” to get back to basecamp.
“It’s a big new age wall objective with an old-school Alaska mountaineering objective,” Russell explained. “The guys selectively provided me with information to get me psyched,” he added with a laugh.
But despite the dangers and memories of -40ºF temps from their first attempt, Russell is stoked. “Alaska is wild and beautiful,” he said. “It’s affordable and easy to get to. Plus, there are good people. I grew up hunting and fishing, so I really like their culture.” It will be Russell’s eighth time in Alaska.
When Russell isn’t guiding, which he does about three months each year, he works as a carpenter. He’s a certified American Mountain Guides Association Rock Instructor and the director of New Hampshire’s volunteer technical rescue group, Mountain Rescue Service. Learn more about Bayard Russell at Cathedral Mountain Guides.