Quinn Brett: First Ascents in the Rockies + Expedition to the Garwhal

Quinn Brett leading the climb up "Geronimo."
Quinn Brett leading the climb up “Geronimo.” Photo by Max Barlerin.

With an unquenchable thirst for adventure, it is no surprise that Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador Quinn Brett is now embarking on yet another expedition to the Garhwal Himalayan region in Northern India, thanks to GORE-TEX®’s Shipton-Tilman Grant. She will be meeting up with partners Crystal Davis-Robbins and Whitney Clark to explore the Obra Valley and/or the Bhilangna Valley. We wish her luck and hope that she stays safe and has fun. Brett also recently put up a first ascent on a popular peak in Rocky Mountain National Park, where she works as a climbing ranger. This post is a brief account of that ascent.

The day started early for Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador Quinn Brett and her boyfriend Maximillian Barlerin, a 4a.m. wakeup for a truck-ride to the trailhead in preparation for what would end up being a first ascent up the North East face of Chiefs Head Peak, the third highest peak in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). Brett had worked a rescue until 10p.m. the night before; with less than six hours of sleep going, simply standing up was a challenge. 

However, the pair pushed on and began the approach to the base of the face. Facing a 60% forecast for rain, they eyed the clouds warily. Luckily for the intrepid adventurers, rain did not seem in their future and Brett described the clouds as “Non-threatening poofs spooning the granite spires.” With no real plan besides “climb the rock” the pair stopped at the bottom of the face to scout out a route. They decided on a column that had no established route to the left of the typical Chiefs Head climb.

“Blue sky poked her head out just enough to support a mission upwards.” Brett recalled. This was the final approval the pair needed to begin the climb, “Off we set!”

Brett is no stranger to first ascents; she put up lines in places like the fjords of South Greenland. But this one was personal. She spent many hours climbing the classic routes in RMNP, a place that she considers to be “in my backyard,” but had never been the first to put up a new line. This climb would change that. And though conditions weren’t ideal, Brett says she had a secret weapon, Max Barlerin as her cheerleader.

Quinn Brett looking happy!
Brett another day in Rocky Mountain National Park.

“I was tired, but Max is my perfect motivator,” Brett said. This coupled with her visceral need for a first ascent helped her get over the exhaustion and get on the rock face.

The climb started off tough, the first of six pitches was a 5.12 with an unavoidable underhang needed to circumvent a rotten band of rock. But from there the climb mellowed out, averaging at a moderate rating of 5.9 for the rest of the climb. And so the duo felt elated. The weather cleared a little as they got closer to the top, and then with one final simul-climbing push, they summited Chiefs Head around noon. After some deliberation, they decided to name the route, “Geronimo.”

“It was a perfect climb, on-site and ground up and a first ascent to boot,” says Brett. “It was awesome–a beautiful splitter that was in my backyard. I love this place, it has endless adventures!”

Check out a description of the route on MountainProject.com. Read more at “Look Up, Stand Still, Breathe,” Brett’s personal blog. 

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