a.k.a. Java Man

Professional Biography

Jack Tackle

228 Sorensen Creek Drive

Victor, Idaho 83455



I have lived most of my life in Montana. I grew up in the mountains fishing and hunting with my father, who was a research scientist for the Forest Service. It was not until the middle of college, just before I turned twenty, that I discovered technical climbing . I quickly made up for lost time, developing a focus from the beginning on alpine climbing expeditions and establishing first ascents.

The past thirty four years I have pursued all types of climbing throughout many different ranges of the world- while always maintaining an eye on unclimbed routes. I have done numerous trips to the Himalaya, South America, and Alaska.

I am probably best known for my climbing in Alaska.  I have done 30 separate trips, combining both attempts and successes since 1976 and completed 12 major first ascents in Alaska’s various ranges.

Climbing Highlights

1975- Mt. Waddington BC Coast Range– My first expedition. We attempted a new route on the South Face. Later that year I began waterfall ice climbing.

1976- Alaska. I spent my first summer in Alaska with Fred Beckey among others doing first ascents in the Juneau Icefields and completed the first ascent of Mt. Emmerich in the Chilkat Range.

1977- Mt. Waddington BC Coast Range– We climbed a new variation on the South Face. We also did 3 other new routes on Mt. Sockeye, Mt. Agur, and Mt. Monday. I started doing new routes and first winter ascents in the Beartooths Mountains of Montana and the Tetons in Wyoming.

1978- Mt. Kennedy- St. Elias Range– We attempted the North Ridge alpine style and completed a new route on the east spur of Kennedy. I started guiding in Montana and I continued to do first winter ascents in the Tetons and Beartooths.

1979- Alaska -This was my first attempt on the “Isis Face” of Denali (McKinley). Ken Currens, my partner, fell 250 ft. and broke his femur on our second day of climbing. An epic rescue with the help of Mugs Stump demonstrated self-reliance on our part. I began giving ice seminars and more rock climbing instruction.

1980- Alaska -2nd attempt of the “Isis Face” on Denali. Bad weather and conditions forced our retreat. We also climbed to 16,000ft. on the South Buttress of Denali.

1981- China -1st expedition to Asia. Jim Donini, Kim Schmitz, and I attempted alpine style the 6,000 ft. north face of Mt. Siguniang ( 21,600ft.) in central Sichuan province. We reached 19,000 ft. before storms forced our retreat. We were the second American expedition to China after it re-opened in 1980.

1982- Alaska -Dave Stutzman and I completed the first ascent of the “Isis Face” of Denali. This 8,000 ft. Face was climbed alpine style over a period of 8 days and included 76 belayed pitches. Alaskan Grade 6. – That summer I started guiding for the Exum Mountain Guides in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. Exum is the oldest and most prestigious guide service in the U.S.

1983- Mt. Everest – West Ridge Direct from Tibet. We did a new route on the west shoulder to 24,000ft. from the north side, then attempted to finish the upper West ridge direct. We reached 26,500 on the direct before switching to the North Face/Horbein, where I reached the expedition high point of 27,500 ft solo and without oxygen. Our team used no Sherpas or bottled oxygen. Our team included John Roskelley, Galen Rowell, Kim Momb, Michael Graber, and leader Bob Craig.

1984- Pakistan- Karakoram – Galen Rowell,  and I along with two others did an alpine style first ascent of Lukpilla Brakk. (18,000ft.) The 32 pitch rock climb of this free standing tower near The Ogre was climbed all free except for 10 feet over a 2 ½ day period. National Geographic was a co-sponsor of the expedition. Later that winter, Alex Lowe and I did the 2nd winter ascent of the North Ridge of the Grand Teton.

1985- Alaska Range– Jim Donini and I did the first ascent of the “Diamond Arete” on Mt. Hunter. This alpine style route was done over a 9-day push that included 36 pitches and a traverse of the mountain in bad weather. I also guided the South Buttress of Denali that season. Alex Lowe and I completed 4 major winter routes in the Tetons during this year: The second winter ascent alpine-style of the North Face of the Grand Teton- FWA of South Buttress Right, Mt Moran-FWA of Staircase Arete, Mt. Moran- and first ascent of Laughing Lion Falls- Mt. Moran.

1986- Peru– New route with Jim Donini in the Corderilla Hyuahaush. South Face of Trapecio. We also attempted a new route on the East Face of Jirishanca. Later that year, Alex Lowe and I completed the FWA of South Buttress Direct, Mt. Moran in the Tetons.

1987- Alaska Range– Jim Donini and I attempted a new route on the East Face of Kichatna Spire. We completed a 10 pitch new route on Avalanche Spire in the Kichatnas using the only good day of weather the entire trip.

1988- Alaska Range– Mt. Foraker- Jim Donini and I attempted the 2nd ascent of the Infinite Spur. Storms forced our retreat.

1989- Alaska Range– Ruth Gorge- Jim Donini and I completed all but the last 600 feet of a new route on the ENE ridge of Mt. Wake. We ripped out a slab avalanche at our feet just below the summit and barely completed an epic descent down the unknown north face in a storm. On the same trip, we also attempted 3 times a new route on the East Face of Mt. Barille, but continuous bad weather forced us off the route.

1990- First winter ascents- Beartooth Mountains in Montana and Tetons of Wyoming.

1991- Alaska Range– Jim Donini and I completed two major routes this season. We first climbed the “Cobra Pillar” on the East Face of Mt. Barille in the Ruth Gorge. The route was 22 pitches of rock climbing and 7 pitches of snow and ice. We climbed alpine style over a 2-½ day push. Grade 6, 5.11a A2. Then, we flew over to Mt. Foraker and did a new route on the SE side we called the “Viper Ridge”. This alpine route ascends a prominent rib up to 13,000 ft. on the SE Ridge. Both the pillar on Barille and the ridge on Foraker were done in one 17-day trip.

1992- Alaska Range– Denali- I soloed the West Rib in 7 hours from 14,000ft. I also did a new route on the face of the Direct West Buttress above Windy Corner to 16,000 ft. in 12 hours round trip from the 14,000 ft. camp.

1993- Alaska Range– Ruth Gorge- My 1st attempt on “The Elevator Shaft”.  of Mt. Johnson.  Karakoram– Pakistan. Jim Donini and I attempted the unclimbed peak Uzum Brakk in the Biafo Glacier area near The Ogre.  This 6350-m peak is also known as “Conways’ Ogre.”  Jim and I reached 6000 m., 10 pitches of climbing below the summit, but had to retreat because of bad weather. This route has 2000 m. of climbing which we did alpine-style.

1994- Alaska Range– Ruth Gorge- My 2nd attempt on “The Elevator Shaft” of Mt. Johnson. I guided the West Buttress of Denali that same season. I also completed the FWA of Serendipity Arete on Mt. Owen in the Tetons- solo.

1995- Alaska Range– Ruth Gorge- Doug Chabot and I completed the first ascent of  “The Elevator Shaft” on Mt. Johnson. Alaskan Grade 6 WI5 5.7 A2+.  Canadian Rockies– Numerous waterfall ice climbs including “Sea of Vapors” and “Gimme Shelter.” I also attempted a new route on the North Face of Mt. Kennedy in the Yukon/ St. Elias Mountains with Jack Roberts.  Patagonia – Argentina. I attempted to guide the Franco-Argentine route on Fitzroy.

1996- St. Elias Range- Alaska/Yukon– Jack Roberts and I climbed a new route called       “Arctic Discipline” on the North Face of Mt. Kennedy. This 11-day effort was both capsule and alpine style combined. Alaskan Grade 6 WI 5+ M5. Later that season in the Cordillera Blanca of Peru, I climbed Alpamayo and Artensonraju.The British route on the South Face of Taulliraju was unsuccessfully attempted with Barry Blanchard.

1997- Alaska Range- Mt. Hunter. Doug Chabot and I climbed a new variation on the SW Face of the SW Ridge that we named “The Sound of Freedom.” We climbed the 5,000 ft. face in one 14-hour push.

1998- Patagonia- Argentina– Fitzroy. Joe Josephson and I attempted a new variation on the West Face of Fitzroy. We reached a high point of 5,000 ft up the 7,000 ft. face before being forced down by bad weather. We later completed the Super Caneleta route in 72 hour push base camp to base camp. In May, Joe Josephson, Jeannie Wall, and I climbed the East Ridge of Mount Logan in the St.Elias Range.

1999- Expeditions to Patagonia and Alaska. Guest speaker at the Banff Film Festival. Guest speaker and Jury member at the Trento Film Festival in Trento, Italy. Awarded the “Genziana Giovanne” award for excellence in alpine climbing by the Italian Alpine Club and the Trento Film Festival. Recipient of the American Alpine Club 1999 Underhill Award for outstanding mountaineering achievement.

2000- Expedition to Alaska and a National Geographic sponsored expedition to the Ogre in Pakistan. Invited guest speaker at the Banff Festival Summit 2000.An essay about the future of climbing appears in “Voices from the Summit”, published by National Geographic books.

2001- Lectured at National Geographic in Washington DC on alpine style climbing in Alaska, March 27th.Guided 30 days in the Tetons after having Gullian- Barre’ Syndrome in January, with 50 days of hospitalization, including the Grand Traverse of the Teton Range. Lectured at National Geographic on October 16th-17th with Brad and Barbara Washburn.

2002- Mt Augusta attempt in the St. Elias Range

2003- Recipient of the Sowles Award from the American Alpine Club.

2004- Attempt on the West Face of Mt. Huntington, Alaska Range

2005- Mt. Huntington- new route” The Imperfect Apparition” with Fabrizio Zangrilli

2006- Alaska Range- Ruth Gorge – attempted routes with Fabrizio Zangrilli

Patagonia- attempted route on Cerro Torre- with Fabrizio Zangrilli

2007- Mount Logan- attempted new route with Fabrizio Zangrilli and Jay Smith

Professional Guiding Highlights

The following are some of the highlights of my guiding experience:

  • Exum Mountain Guides- Grand Teton National Park, Wyo. 1982- 2005 Senior Guide
  • Mexican Volcanoes- Popo, Ixta, Orizaba- 1985-87-89
  • Equador- Chimborazo and Cotapaxi- 1987
  • Switzerland- Zermatt area-1992
  • McKinley- 1985, 1994
  • Fitzroy- 1995/96
  • Grand Traverse- Grand Teton National Park 2001-2002- 2004-2006

Outdoor Industry Professional Experience – Retail

I began as a retail sales associate in Bridger Mtn Sports in Bozeman Montana in 1977. Within a year I was the hardgoods buyer for the store. I subsequently become a partner in the store in 1979. An opportunity to buy another specialty shop in Bozeman arose in 1980 and the partners from Bridger Mtn. Sports bought the Mountain Air, which we ran up until 1984 when we sold it to another competitor in town called Northern Lights. Bridger Mtn. Sports was closed in 1982 to focus more on the Mountain Air location.

Outdoor Industry Professional Experience-Wholesale

I started as an associate rep with Wilderness Experience and Kastinger in the fall of 1983 after returning from Everest. Then, I became an independent rep in 1984 covering Montana, Idaho and Wyoming for Wilderness Experience and Kastinger. I represented Helly- Hansen, Onesport, and Edelweiss ropes from 1986-1988. Starting in 1989, I went to work as the Black Diamond rep for the NW and NE, which I did until 1991. In April 1991, I became the Northern Rockies rep for Patagonia, which I did exclusively until April 1998.  I started a new role in the industry in November 1998, as a technical advisor for Tecnica Outdoor Footwear, which I did from Nov.1998 until May 2001. Later in 2001 I joined Vasque Footwear as a technical advisor on mountaineering product and marketing. After years in that role, I went back into repping Vasque in the Rockies in May of 2003. In July of 2003 Kim Miller, formerly of Black Diamond and I joined forces in the Rockies with a sales rep agency called Fusion2 Marketing which represents Vasque Footwear, Black Diamond Climbing Equipment, and HighGear. In 2005 Eric Johnson replaced Kim Miller as my partner in Fusion 2 Marketing.

Service Organizations

I have been a member of the American Alpine Club since 1977. I served on the AAC Board of Directors for two terms- from 1988 to 1994. I also served as the Chairman of the Grand Teton Climbers Ranch Committee from 1988-1993. Currently I serve on the Underhill Award Committee, the Honorary Committee, and chair the Spitzer grant committee for the AAC.I am currently a board member again of the American Alpine Club.

I also served on the Mugs Stump Award committee from 1993-1998. I am presently a board member of the Malden Mills Polartec Challenge Board.  I am an Access Fund ambassador since 2002.

Writing and Publishing

I have the past few years authored essays in both Alpinist #1 and the Banff Festival ” Voices from the Summit”. I have been featured in Outside, Climbing, Rock and Ice, and Hooked on the Outdoors,the New York Times, and LA Times. Through the years I have chronicled some of my major climbs in the AAC journal, including feature articles. I have also been featured in numerous books which include ” High Alaska”, ” Fifty Classic Climbs in North America”, and  ” 50 Favorite Climbs in North America”.

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