Meet a presenter: Andrew Piotrowski

Andrew is one of our presenters for this year's Story Swap. Andrew is a Chester County resident who is passionate about all things outside—including trail running, backpacking, Kayaking, and Snowboarding, and even started a climbing apparel brand, Ausabl, with his wife Faith. While he prefers to go fast—like completing the Presidential Traverse in sub 9 hours—things don’t always go as planned. At this year’s swap, Andrew will be talking about his epic on the East Buttress of Mt. Whitney.

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How did you get introduced to climbing?
I got introduced to climbing as a kid when my mom would take me to the small rock wall
inside the local I.Goldbergs store. However I was still in middle school and when the
store went out of business I stopped climbing. In college one of my long time biking and
kayaking friends moved to the White Mountains and re-introduced me to climbing. Over
the past six years I have spent a ton of time learning skills and training for climbs.

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Why did you want to climb Mt Whitney?
We wanted to climb a moderate alpine objective and we felt that the Sierras had the best chance for good weather in June. We also chose Mt Whitney based on it being the highest mountain in the lower 48 states.

What was the crux of the trip?
The climbing itself had a bunch of small difficult sections but the true crux was the route finding which we mostly failed at. Neither of us had a ton of experience climbing anything that large and we found ourselves off route…..majorly.

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A memorable moment or aspect of the trip?
I think for me the most memorable aspect was really gaining an understanding of the importance of teamwork while climbing in the big mountains. There were a few scary sections/situation that we really had to work together to figure out and get through safely. For example around our 20th hour on the go we had to descend an exposed and frozen snowfield in the dark.