Badass of the Week: Travis Cortrhouts

Name: Travis Corthouts
Hometown: Canton, Conn.
Degree:  B.S. in Geology
M.S. Candidate in Structural Geology, Thesis – Geology of Mount Everest.
Rock climbing
Mountain biking

If you could do anything for a day what would it be?
Assuming I couldn’t die — I would go to Baffin Island and wingsuit base jump for the day.

What day will you never forget?
Going from Base Camp to Camp 1 on Mount Everest. We had to climb through the Khumbu Icefall which we nicknamed “the ballroom of death.” While climbing through the icefall you cross countless crevasses via aluminum ladders, all while being exposed to avalanches and serac collapse (huge ice blocks). In the realm of mountaineering, the Khumbu Icefall has a somewhat fabled status as the most technical and objectively dangerous feature on the most popular avenue to the roof of the world. So for me, as a climber, it meant a lot to pass through a legendary gauntlet that so many giants of the sport have also crossed — it was incredible.

What was the best thing about being on Mt. Everest?
Being a part of one of the biggest Everest expeditions ever was great — the expedition was commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first American ascent. But the best part was waking up every morning and watching avalanches come down the surrounding mountains and looking around at the largest peaks in the world. It just makes you feel small.

What were you researching and how did you get involved?
We were researching the geology of Mount Everest; the scope of our project was to collect a suite of rock samples from the southeast ridge of Everest, a task never quite completed before. I got involved through Dr. David Lageson, who designed the expedition’s geology research element. The research and expedition were all a part of the Everest Education Expedition which was sponsored by National Geographic, The North Face and the National Science Foundation.

What brought you to Montana?
The usual: Mountains, climbing and skiing. I started school here in 2005 as an undergraduate and in 2012 started my master’s program.

What was your favorite summit in Montana?
I recently did a speed solo of Granite Peak.  The only people I saw up there were turning around due to the conditions. This was a little unnerving but I still made it, and in good time. I went from East Rosebud Lake Trailhead to the summit and back in just over 14 hours (note: this summit is usually done in groups and often takes around 2+ days).

What is in the future?
I would like to go back and climb Mt. Everest again myself, in order to augment our research.

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