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The 2012 Bates Award Goes To…

Posted on: April 26th, 2012 by Pete Takeda

Kyle Dempster.

The 2012 Robert Hicks Bates Award goes to 28 year old Kyle Dempster of  Salt Lake City. He practices every discipline in climbing, from big alpine routes in the Himalaya, to single pushes on El Cap, to big wall climbing on Baffin Island, to bouldering.

He is best known for his ascent of the Great White Jade Heist, the first ascent on the 3000 meter North Face of Xuelian West (6422m) in the Chinese side of the Tien Shan. For this five-day climb—supported in part by the Club’s Lyman Spitzer Cutting Edge Award—Jed Brown, Bruce Normand, and Dempster received the 2010 Piolet d’Or.

In November of 2010—again with Normand—Dempster traveled to China’s Sichuan Province. They made two major first ascents: the central couloir on the West Face of Mount Grosvenor (6376m) and the East Face of Mount Edgar (6618m). Mount Edgar is the peak where Jonny Copp, Micah Dash and Wade Johnson died on in 2009. Their eight day ascent earned them a Piolet d’Or nomination for the second year in a row. 

In 2011 Dempster spent seven weeks riding his bicycle around Kyrgyzstan. He then made his way through Western China crossing the border into Pakistan to meet Kelly Cordes and Hayden Kennedy in the Charakusa valley. There, Kennedy and Dempster made the first ascent of Hassan Peak, circa 6,300 meters.

With these adventures in mind, Dempster is a fine recipient of the Robert Hicks Bates Award for outstanding accomplishment by a young climber. Robert Bates was a renowned explorer, alpinist, Peace Corp director, and educator. His namesake award recognizes a young climber who in the judgment of the selection committee has demonstrated exceptional skill and character in the climbing or mountaineering arts and has outstanding promise for future accomplishment. The Club officially presented Kyle with his award in Salt Lake City, UT last month.

A few words from Dempster

How does it feel to win?

“I’m super-stoked and ultra-honored to receive the Robert Bates award this year! It’s cool to be recognized in the name of such a great adventurer.”

Any thoughts on the award?

“I would like to thank my parents for giving me my adventurous spirit and encouraging me to explore the world, push myself, and to grow from those experiences. I would like to also thank my sponsors and the generosity of AAC grant program [Ed. Kyle is also a Mountaineering Fellowship Award winner] for facilitating numerous expeditions. And of course Higher Ground Coffee for providing the necessary caffeine for those expeditions.”

What doe you have coming up in the near future?

“Up coming expeditions… I have a Karakoram double-header with fellow bolt choppers, Hayden Kennedy and Jason Kruk. We hope to finish our route on K7 that we began in 2011 and attempt the Ogre II.”

For a little insight into Dempster’s approach to adventure, watch this:

About The Robert Hicks Bates Award:

Robert Bates, a renowned explorer, alpinist, Peace Corp director and educator, has accomplished numerous first ascents in Alaska and was a member of the American expeditions to K2 in 1938 and 1953. His literary contributions describing the K2 expeditions and his life of adventure in the mountains have inspired young American climbers. He has served the American Alpine Club in many capacities: member of the editorial board of the American Alpine Journal, Board member, President and Honorary President. Above all, he has devoted his life to promoting the education and development of American youth through his years as a teacher at Phillips Exeter Academy, service with the Peace Corp, and other endeavors. He also was on that famous climb of Lucania and Steele with Washburn in 1937, when their plane crashed on the glacier and the pilot agreed to leave them there but would not return; instead of bailing, they made the first ascent of the two peaks and walked out the far side. They both were in their mid-20s.

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