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In session: Jesik in the Black canyon. Photo courtesy of alpine mentors

Steve House’s Alpine Mentors program gives the famed alpinist a chance to give back to the climbing community.

Three years ago, legendary alpinist Steve House plummeted 80 feet off the north face of Mount Temple in the Canadian Rockies suffering five broken ribs, a collapsed right lung and multiple fractures in his pelvis and spine. House does not recall much about the accident, nor the painkiller-induced weeks that followed, except for how grateful he was to be alive.

“I realized I’d been pretty close to not making it,” says House, 42. “It made me reconsider a lot, especially my relationships and how I could give back to the community of climbers.”

House, a Patagonia brand ambassador, largely attributes his success to the mentors who provided guidance and friendship when he was just a “puppy” exploring the Alps as an exchange student in Slovenia during in his early twenties. “They demystified climbing for me and validated my goals and dreams like no one else had.”

As he slowly recovered from that fall, House decided start a formal mentoring program for climbers based in Colorado. Alpine Mentors, which aims to give young alpinists the chance to achieve goals perceived to be beyond their reach. For Alpine Mentors’ debut, six applicants spent a week climbing in southern Colorado. Afterward, Marianne van der Steen, 28, Buster Jesik, 26, Colin Simon, 24, and Stephen van Sickle, 29 were invited to join the two-year program which will culminate in a joint expedition that they design, plan and execute.

The goal of Alpine Mentors is not to build the best climbers. “They are all extremely good climbers with solid technical skills,” House says. “I can help them with the mental part—dealing with fears and expectations, finding direction and hearing that their goals are worthwhile.”

Mentee Marianne van der Steen echoes House’s vision. “The most important thing is trusting myself, believing in myself and accepting myself,” she says.

House hopes his program will motivate more people to take their climbing to the next level. “I’ve moved beyond just climbing for myself and toward doing anything I can to promote alpine climbing and inspire people to get out there,” he says. alpinementors.org

—Chris Kassar

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