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Sep 6, 2023

Justin Bowen’s first time scaling walls and new routes was in a climbing gym during a friend’s birthday party. It wasn’t until high school, driven by persistent memories of that experience, that Bowen started climbing on a more consistent basis.

Eventually, while attending college in Arizona, Bowen planned his first trip to Yosemite, where he jumped right onto the East Buttress of Middle Cathedral. He quickly realized just how much he still had to learn about building anchors and placing gear. A few years ago, Bowen met friend and mentor Mark Jenkins, who he says shared a wealth of knowledge based on his decades of climbing around the world. Bowen still climbs with and learns from Jenkins on a regular basis.

In this episode, Bowen reflects on how he manages fear—both in the mountains, and in his day-to-day life. He talks about being a PhD student, and the terrifying prospect of only having two-to-three weeks off a year to pursue climbing objectives after finishing school. And he speaks to the striking similarities between the Tetons and Mt. Kenya. Tales from Bowen and Jenkins’ Mt. Kenya expedition are featured in Alpinist 83.

This episode is brought to you by the American Alpine Club

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Host: Abbey Collins

Guest: Justin Bowen

Producer + Engineer: Mike Horn