Interview: Meet Alpine Climber and The North Face Athlete Mark Synnott
To go somewhere no one has been before is a guaranteed adventure because not knowing what’s in store, the outcome is completely uncertain, and that mystery is what Mark Synnott thrives on.
That and climbing.
“When you are climbing you are up there and you are existing in the moment, you are really focused in the present, because of the fact that you are trying to hold on, you know? It draws you attention into the now and that’s the really cool part of climbing, the way it does that.”
Mark spent 39 days living on the side of the 4,700-foot north face of Polar Sun Spire in Canada’s Baffin Island in 1996, an experience that set the course for the rest of his life; it put things into perspective. When he came back he felt different.
“It’s not like I had an epiphany where I realized the meaning of life,” Mark said.
But he had found something he really enjoyed and knew form that moment what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.
“I thought to myself, ‘Wow, that’s it! That is my childhood dream, right there, to have an adventure that’s intense and a voyage of discovery,” he said. “This is really what I am supposed to do, this is my calling.”
When Mark was a kid he felt he had missed out on the chance to discover unexplored places. He learned about explorers who had gone to places where no one had been before and the idea enthralled him, but he was under the impression that all places on earth had been discovered, everything he wanted to do had been done, and that was disappointing.
“You’re in school and they tell you ‘[explorers] have already done it all, there’s nothing left. You just have to get a job and start working.’”
But that was not the life Mark dreamt of. So, he decided that big walls and cliffs would be the places to discover—his own uncharted adventures. And in the process of finding these walls he realized there still are places out there that are unexplored, waiting to be discovered, that some mystery is still out there.
His most recent expedition (above) was to the Ennedi Desert in Chad, Africa. A place filled with imposing towers no climber had ever climbed. Mark and his team, Alex Honnold, Jimmy Chin, James Pearson, Tim Kemple and Renan Ozturk, were the first to ascent the intrepid rock formations in this remote location; Mark’s ideal adventure.
“It’s fair to say we were like kids in a candy store. This was like finding a new continent for climbers, literally. I was stunned at the rugged nature of the landscape,” Rock climber and photographer Jimmy Chin told the Daily Mail Online. “There was some element of a long shot about this, but you know if you go on a trip with Mark it is going to be difficult, it is going to pose problems, it is going to question you as a climber.”
Mark found out about this climbing bonanza in Chad and convinced the rest of the team to join him on this adventure.
“I’ve always been inspired by exploration,” said Mark, who’s gained a reputation for his out-of-the-box adventures.
“As far fetched as it might be, the reality of making [these adventures] happen is just a matter of taking the right steps,” said Mark. “Anybody in the world can do it as long as they are determined enough.”
“There are so many things in life that we want, that we dream about, but we can’t just grab on and pull like you can when you’re climbing a mountain,” he said. “All you have to do is put one foot in front of the other and you gotta grab on an pull yourself up. If you are going for your dream you are going with your body and your mind—you are making it happen.”
But the very first step, for climbing or otherwise, according to Mark, is to figure out what the dream is, for people to question what they really want to do with their lives on this planet.
“Figure out what that is and then just go for it,” he said, “go hard until it’s done and when it’s done pick the next one and do it over and over again.”
Check out our amazing presentation this month as we host an evening with The North Face athlete, rock climber Mark Synnott at Prime Climb, in Wallingford, CT, on April, 26.