Mixed Climb Pioneer
Bearzi was an accomplished alpinist whose distinguished resume included the first alpine-style free ascent of Patagonia's Cerro Torre, and an attempt on the North Ridge of K2, which was featured on National Geographic Explorer. He had been on Everest three times, including two alpine-style attempts on its treacherous North Face.
In the 1980s and early '90s, he helped pioneer mixed climbing, and claimed many first ascents of mixed winter routes in Rocky Mountain National Park. He was instrumental in the invention of the "M system," which has become a widely used standard for ranking the difficulty of mixed climbs.
The 49-year-old Bearzi lived in Boulder, Colorado, with his wife Reneé St. Aubin. During off-climbing times, he worked as a carpenter to finance his passion for the mountains.
He will be remembered most of all as a man whose love for the outdoors was a driving passion.
"Most of the guys I've encountered who are performing at a high level aren't out there for the pure love of the space," said Balog. "They're out there for the technical exercise, and other reasons, but sometimes they're lacking an aesthetic and spiritual love of the place. Mike just loved being out there, enjoying the wild. He could have just as much fun doing a casual climb on the Flatirons near Boulder, on a summer morning, as he could pushing toward the summit of an 8,000-meter peak. That really strikes at the essence of what kind of person he was."
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