Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Willie Benegas

Willie Benegas
Home: Any Mountain on the Planet

Willie is our expedition Team Lead. If everything goes according to plan, he will summit Mount Everest for the eighth time on this trip. Last year, he summited Everest twice in one week. Thanks to six expeditions to Everest and neighboring Nuptse, Willie is highly experienced in the route of climb, what to bring, what to wear, and how to be safe in the process.

Willie grew up in Patagonia in an area where there were no mountains, similar to Baja, California. His entire family shares his adventuring spirit and has centered their lives around the outdoors. Several of his five brothers and sisters are active in the outdoor industry -- from diving and sea kayaking to mountaineering.

Willie became hooked on mountaineering as a little boy when his father showed him a climbing photo. Soon after, Willie stole the rope anchoring his father’s boat to teach himself how to rappel. The boat drifted out to sea, but Willie became grounded in what has now become a storied career climbing the world’s tallest mountains.

Willie's hallmark is safety and like everyone on the team, he follows the golden rule of climbing: summiting is optional, returning safely is mandatory. In 2005, Explorersweb nominated Willie as the best guide on Everest South Side thanks to his attention to detail, interest in climber/Sherpa welfare, and active role in rescues on the mountain when called.

Willie is an active member of The North Face Climbing Team and has been since the late 1990s. Some of his accomplishments include the Crystal Snake on Nuptse, new routes in Bolivia, and the first sub-24 hour ascent on Aconcagua. This fall he will be climbing Batura II, which is the highest unclimbed peak in Pakistan.

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