Pete Zabrok’s El Cap Ex­pando Epic

On­tario climber Pete Zabrok Sum­mit of Ex­cel­lence for Que­bec Climber Jacques Olek

Gripped - - NEWS -

made his

61st El Cap route the Winds of Change. He made the se­cond as­cent of the VI 5.10 A5 with Neil Chel­ton and Erik Mckin­ley Eriks­son. When the team reached The Pin­na­cle of Ham­mer­dom, they found the

60-me­tre tall fea­ture moved and crushed some of their gear. Zabrok tells the story as, “Three days ago dur­ing our morn­ing cof­fee, we were show­ered with about a minute of fine sand fall­ing from above. We re­al­ized the pin­na­cle is loose and ex­pand­ing. We had to get out of there. After the load was hauled, the crack closed up and ate two of our Ca­malots. Chel­ton led the next pitch up the left side­plac­ing a #3 and #4 for pro. A few hours later when the rock had cooled, the crack closed up so tight that we could barely ex­tract the cams. That’s like an inch of ex­pando in only a cou­ple hours. We soon reached the solid wall above.” Que­bec 73-year-old Jacques Olek is the 2018 re­cip­i­ent of the Banff Cen­tre Sum­mit of Ex­cel­lence Award. Re­garded as a pi­o­neer in the Que­bec moun­taineer­ing com­mu­nity, he de­voted his life to moun­tain cul­ture by lead­ing dif­fi­cult win­ter ex­pe­di­tions around the world and teach­ing the love of climb­ing to oth­ers. “Jacques is a pi­o­neer who spent a life­time pro­mot­ing moun­tain cul­ture,” said Louis Rousseau, Sum­mit of Ex­cel­lence se­lec­tion com­mit­tee mem­ber. “He’s a hu­man­ist who trav­els not to con­quer moun­tains, but to let his heart be con­quered by the peo­ple he meets. He in­spired so many to dream big, to go be­yond, to play out­side with pas­sion and have the feel­ing of be­ing free.”

A proud Cana­dian of Pol­ish de­scent, Olek is a cham­pion of win­ter climb­ing. He was part of a Pol­ish-Cana­dian ex­pe­di­tion that made the first win­ter sum­mit of Cho Oyu (8,201 me­tres) in 1985. In 1987 and 88, Olek joined a team of Pol­ish, British, and Cana­dian climbers to at­tempt the first push for the sum­mit of K2 in win­ter. The team reached 7,300 me­tres be­fore con­di­tions forced them to turn around. To this day, no one has made a win­ter as­cent to the sum­mit of K2. Olek ran an out­door store in Mon­treal – Blacks In­ter­na­tional – al­low­ing him to in­spire thou­sands of Cana­di­ans to take on new chal­lenges. He spent a life­time build­ing and sup­port­ing the out­door com­mu­nity in Que­bec, or­ga­niz­ing the first Que­bec ex­pe­di­tion to Baf­fin Is­land in 1976 and to Mount Lo­gan in 1978. He was on ex­pe­di­tions to Nanga Par­bat, Shisha­pangma and Makalu.

“In 1981, I met vi­sion­ary Pol­ish moun­tain climber An­drzej Zawada,” said Olek, “the leader of a Pol­ish na­tional ex­pe­di­tion that made the first win­ter as­cent of Ever­est in 1980, paving the way for the win­ter climb­ing tra­di­tion on the 8000ers. This meet­ing was cru­cial be­cause it al­lowed Cana­dian moun­taineers to con­trib­ute to the Hi­malayan win­ter climb­ing his­tory.”

Lu­nag Ri (6,895 m) in Hi­malayas

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