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Alumni Spotlight: Alan Rousseau

Alumni Spotlight: Alan Rousseau
Alan Rousseau climbs through an ice hose in Alaska in 2019. Photo by Jackson Marvell.

Alan Rousseau, who completed a rare, alpine-style, 6,940-meter ascent of a mountain in the Nepal Himalayas, is The Patton College of Education’s June Alum of the Month.

In October 2019, Rousseau and his partner Roberto “Tino” Villanueva became the first-ever alpinists to reach the summit of Tengi Ragi Tau’s west face, located in Namche, Nepal. After eight consecutive days on the move, four of those days spent climbing, the duo established a never-before-seen route and named it “Release the Kraken.”

We both felt disbelief to be standing there,” Rousseau wrote in a report on alpinist.com. “The peak had eluded us for so long, I think we had made it out to be a bit of a mythical beast. For that reason, and for the wild upper snow features, we named our route Release the Kraken.”

Rousseau and Villanueva have been climbing together since 2008. The team first considered the idea of scaling Tengi Ragi Tau in 2011, but did not complete the feat until eight and a half years later, on their third expedition to the area.

In 2012, supported by an American Alpine Club Fellowship grant, Rousseau and Villanueva completed their first ascent of Langmoche Ri, the northernmost peak of Tengi Ragi Tau.

The summit of Langmoche Ri is still a long way from Tengi Ragi Tau,” Rousseau wrote. “I remember being mesmerized by the sheer magnitude of the west face when we walked below it.”

The duo, who then received an American Alpine Club Cutting Edge grant, returned to Tengi Ragi Tau in 2014 to make their first attempt at scaling the mountain’s west face, but retreated in response to dangerous weather conditions.

The third try was the charm in 2019, when Rousseau and Villanueva successfully “Released the Kraken,” and completed their noteworthy expedition to the west face’s summit. This expedition was supported by a Copp-Dash Inspire Award, a grant given to assist small teams on difficult climbs.

Alpine-style climbing is a self-sufficient form of mountaineering, in which climbers carry all of their food, shelter, and equipment and require no outside help. Rousseau has been alpine climbing since 2005.

I initially saw it as a way to get into bigger terrain to ski, but it soon became a passion of its own,” he said.

Rousseau graduated from Ohio University in 2011 with a master’s degree in Parks, Recreation, and Leisure Studies, and a specialization in Outdoor Recreation and Education. Prior to that, he studied at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

Rousseau lives in Salt Lake City and is a certified mountain guide in Utah, Alaska, and the European Alps. However, for the 2020 mountaineering season, Rousseau is staying at home due to COVID-19 precautions.

I was supposed to spend two months in Alaska and three months in Europe, basically back-to-back starting April 25,” Rousseau said. “Both of those seasons have been canceled for me.”

Apparently, a mountain is easier to surmount than a pandemic.