Scaling the Wall

Big wall climber Mark Synnott visits Thacher.
The community owes its thanks to History Department Chair Jason Carney for bringing his long-time childhood friend Mark Synnott for a four-day campus visit recently. Mark Synnott is a pioneering big wall climber and one of the most prolific adventurers of his generation. His search for unclimbed and unexplored rock walls has taken him on nearly 30 expeditions to places like Alaska, Baffin Island, Greenland, Iceland, Newfoundland, Patagonia, Guyana, Venezuela, Pakistan, Nepal, India, China, Tibet, Uzbekistan, Russia, Cameroon, Chad, Borneo, Oman and Pitcairn Island. Discover more about Mark's adventures at his website.

When he's not in the mountains, Mark works with The North Face Research, Design and Development team and lectures frequently on his life as a professional climber and explorer. He has done motivational speaking for clients like General Motors, Bank of New York, Vanity Fair, the X Prize Foundation and the National Geographic Society. Mark has also worked extensively in the film and television industry, both in front of and behind the camera. His credits include work for National Geographic Television, NBC Sports, Warren Miller Entertainment, Teton Gravity Research and Red Bull Media House. An accomplished journalist and author, Mark is a regular contributor to National Geographic Magazine, and his work has appeared in many other publications including Men's Journal, Outside, Climbing, Rock & Ice, Skiing, and New York Magazine.

Mark is also a certified mountain guide and the owner and director of one of the premier guide services in the east: Synnott Mountain Guides. SMG offers instruction in rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering, backcountry skiing, and avalanche education. He is also a long time member of the Mountain Rescue Service (MRS) and currently serves on the board of MRS and the Access Fund.

During his time at Thacher, Mark spoke to the community on Thursday night after formal dinner and led two climbing sessions with Thacher's climbers. All were welcome at Mark's climbing sessions and both new and experienced climbers had lots they could learn from him.

Colin Kirkpatrick commented, "I think my favorite time with Mark was down at the climbing wall where he walked us through how we might save an unconscious climbing partner hanging below us on a multi-pitch climb. He walked through each step, covering the first aid aspects (such as how to keep the person vertical so they don't choke on their tongue) and all of the technicalities of remaining tied in while transferring the weight of both yourself and the unconscious partner in the necessary ways to get everyone down safely."

His visit left many inspired to consider taking on new adventures in their own lives. Sophomore Fiona McLaughlin remarked, "Mark Synnott definitely blew me away a little bit; his life of extreme adventure made the lives we all live look pretty ordinary. As someone who's also passionate about the outdoors, climbing, and biology, his adventures were very appealing! He was definitely inspirational in the sense of chasing exactly what he wanted to do without really letting anyone stop him."

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