Damian has made around 85 ascents of El Capitan in 10 years
Growing up in Puerto Madryn, Patagonia, Damian Benegas and his twin brother, Willie, had to be creative when it came to finding places to climb. According to Damian, “The chimney of Willie’s girlfriend’s house and the clay sea cliffs on the coast of Peninsula Valdez were the only vertical things we had.” But they persevered, and it wasn’t long before Damian had graduated from 20-foot chimneys to 20,000-foot mountain peaks, making a name for himself in the Andes and the Himalaya. Not content to climb where others have, Damian prefers the challenge of opening new routes, claiming that seeing traces of other climbers on a mountain gives him “too many clues.” In the spring of 2003, he and Willie climbed a new route they dubbed “The Crystal Snake” on The North Face® buttress of Nuptse in Nepal, a feat for which they received Climbing magazine’s Golden Piton Award. In addition to big-mountain climbs, Damian excels in traditional and sport climbing, with numerous first ascents and speed climbs under his belt. His favorite place to climb is Yosemite, California, where he estimates he’s made over 85 ascents of El Capitan in the past ten years. Yet no matter how high he sets his sights, Damian always remains grounded, reminding himself and others to “keep having fun -- what counts is the process, not the summit.”
Nickname: Willie Benegas' Brother
Favorite Destination: Yosemite
Favorite The North Face® Product: Red Point JFT and Prophet Back Pack. From the city to the airplane to the summits of giants.
Proudest Moment: Summit Nuptse 1
Cause(s): To leave something positive with the places I visit. And to start the Kara Forum Climbing School.
Words To Live By: What counts is the process and not the summit.
Favorite Snack: Ben & Jerry ice cream.
Favorite Moment In History: When Lionel Terry wrote The Conquest of Impossible.
Most Recent Epic: Stuck on a small ledge for 4 days 3,000 ft up Latoks during a huge storm.
Ambition: To explore Antarctica and to ski like Kasha and Hilaree.
Funniest Story: Got an alpine start at 3am. Drove 300 miles, then I realized I forgot my shoes.
Yosemite Valley, California, USA:
. About 85 ascents of El Capitan in 10 years.
. About 18 ascents of Half Dome in 10 years.
. Summited Ama Dablam 4 times
. Nuptse, "The Crystal Snake": new route on The North Face buttress; awarded Climbing magazine's Golden Piton Award for best climb in 2003
. Attempt on The North Face® of JannuTibet:
. Cho Oyu: 2 times
. About 27 ascents of Aconcagua on nearly all faces, including a new route on the west face ("The Fly of the Condor,"2002)
. About 30 ascents of 20,000 ft. mountains in the Andes region.
. First ascent of Torre principal of Situacion, 1988
. First ascent of Piedra Parada, 1993
. Many first ascents- traditional and sport- up to 5.13.
. Patagonia Exploration: first ascent of "Swept by the Wind," 5.13a, 1,000ft.,2001
. Mt. Wyoming: first ascent of "The Kiss of the Hippopotamus," 1,300 ft., WI 3 M4, 1999
. Little Illusion: two first ascents of "Being Late for Class," 1200 ft., WI4 5.9 M4, 1999
. "flying Predators," 1,500 ft., WI5 M4 75*, snow 1999
. Oshapalca: first ascent of sout face, "My Message," 5.7 WI 4/5, 2,400 ft., 2000
. Alpinist (Vol. 5, Cover shot)
. American Alpine Journal (upcoming 2003 issue)
. Klettern (October issue)Desnivel (www.desnivel.com)
. PlanetMountain.com (www.planetmountain.com)
. verest News (Everest 2003 Season)
. Salt Lake Tribune (http://www.sltrib.com/2003/Oct/10192003/sports/sports.asp)
. Climbing Magazine Golden Piton Award. (www.climbing.com)