Climbers/Packrafters Win Gore-Tex Shipton-Tilman Grant

2016 winners announced for the long-running expedition grant

2016 Gore-Tex Shipton-Tilman grant winners. Photo courtesy Drew Thayer.
The Neacola Multimodal Expedition, winners of a 2016 Gore-Tex Shipton-Tilman grant, will embark on a climbing, skiing, and packrafting expedition in Alaska’s Aleutian Range this summer. Team leader Craig Muderlak is pictured here testing his packraft setup in New Hampshire. Photo courtesy @craigmuderlak

Gore-Tex’s Shipton-Tilman Grant has long awarded climbers, and a handful of paddlers, funds for their world-wide adventures. This year a team of climbers armed with packrafts and headed to Alaska will be part of that esteemed class…

In all, this year Gore-Tex has awarded a total of $20,000 to five expedition teams as part of the 2016 Shipton-Tilman Grant program.

The award is named after Eric Shipton (b.1907) and Bill Tilman (b.1897), who nearly 90 years ago changed the history of mountaineering with a lightweight, low-impact climbing philosophy that still inspires today's adventurers. In honor of these two brave explorers, each year Gore-Tex sponsors the Shipton-Tilman Grant program, whose winning teams prove that they share an appreciation for uncharted areas and the preservation of the natural landscape, planning expeditions that will leave a minimal trace on the peaks they will explore.

Now in its 26th year, the program has awarded nearly $500,000 to expedition teams from around the globe. The Shipton-Tilman Grant program is funded by W. L. Gore & Associates, inventors of the GORE-TEX® brand product technology for comfort and protection.

Leading off with the paddling-related winner, the following five teams will receive grant funding in 2016:

Neacola Multimodal Expedition: Awarded $3,000
The climbing and backcountry team of Craig Muderlak (team leader), David Fay and Drew Thayer aim to complete a human-powered expedition in Alaska that includes a first ascent in the remote Neacola region (the remote, northernmost subrange of the Aleutian Range), followed by an egress by packraft. After summiting, they plan to ski, hike, and packraft float 75 miles west out of the mountains down the Glacier Fork of the Tlikakila River and the North Fork of the Big River to Cook Inlet. Their primary climbing objective is to establish a new route up the 3000ft granite faces of what Muderlak refers to as the "Neacola Bells."

Chaukhamba Alpine Style: Awarded $5,000
The team comprised of Tad McCrea and Jason Kruk will prioritize style and ethic, leaving a minimal trace of passage as they attempt to ascend the great south/southeast wall of the 7000m Chaukhamba peaks, focused on the unexplored Southeast Buttress of Chaukhamba III and the South Ridge of Chaukhamba IV, in the Garhwal region of the Indian Himalaya in Uttarakhand, India.

British Karakorum 2016 Expedition: Awarded $4,000

Climbing fast and light in true alpine style, the team of Emily Ward (team lead), Matthew Burdekin, Suzana El Massri and Harry Mcghie will traverse and summit yet unexplored, unnamed peaks up to 6600m around a remote glacier in the Snow Lake region of the Hispar Muztagh, Karakorum, Pakistan. The team plans to follow an access route up the Biafo Glacier from Askole, a small, remote town that is located in Shigar Valley and is the final settlement before the Karakorum mountain wilderness.

Hiding in Plain Sight: Unclimbed Summits in the Karakorum: Awarded $4,000

This team of highly accomplished climbers includes Nancy Hansen, the only person to have climbed 46 of the Fifty Classic Climbs of North America and Ralf Dujmovits, an accomplished high-altitude climber who was the 16th person and only German to climb all peaks over 8,000m, all but one of which he ascended without bottled oxygen. Their goal is to attempt two unclimbed peaks in the Karakorum mountain region of Pakistan – Gasherbrum VI (aka Chochordin Peak, 6979m – 7004m) which has been attempted at least four times and Praqpa Ri (7134m – 7156m), for which no attempts have been recorded.

The Great Walls of China: Awarded $4,000
The goal of the team of Szu-ting Yi and David Anderson is to explore an unvisited and unnamed valley in the remote Kokshaal-Too Mountains of Xinjiang Province, China near the border of Kyrgyzstan. Specifically, the team hopes to summit the unclimbed Great Walls of China (5400m), including an unexplored section of the wall that faces south and is located in a sheltered side valley (approx. 2,000ft). While several climbing expeditions have visited this area, Yi reports that none have successfully reached the top of the steep granite walls or the summit of the formation.

— Read about the first Shipton-Tilman Grant ever awarded to river trip, C&K editor-at-large Eugene Buchanan’s 28-day descent of the hardest whitewater river in the Soviet Union in 1993.