Adrenaline fuels man’s climb up ‘scariest summit’
February 19, 2014
By Neil Pierson
Fear seems to be a foreign concept to 44-year-old Brian Hodges, who has taken on numerous challenges that are either physically daunting or flat-out dangerous.
Hodges, a 10-year Sammamish resident, has trekked across the globe seeking adventure. He swam with great white sharks in South Africa, was chased across the African savannah by rhinoceroses, commanded a dog sled along the Arctic Circle, and fished for piranha in the Amazon River.
“I’ve actually climbed one of the Egyptian pyramids one time on a dare,” he said, “which is rough, because you can actually get in big trouble for that.”
Many of those activities have occurred during annual trips that Hodges plans with his buddies. Last October, the group went to Moab, Utah, where they enjoyed hiking, mountain biking and driving Razors – souped-up dune buggies – around the picturesque desert landscape.
But the trip was mostly inspired by a Citibank commercial Hodges saw on television. In the commercial, a woman is shown climbing to the top of a slender rock formation.
After doing some research, Hodges found out the location – Corkscrew, part of a cluster of towering red rocks known as Ancient Art, which has been called the “scariest summit” in North or South America.
Hodges, an experienced rock climber, described the ascent up Corkscrew as deceptively difficult.
“The funny thing about Corkscrew is that it’s only about 30 feet tall,” he said. “And you go, ‘Well, that’s not too bad,’ except for the fact that it’s sitting on a 400-foot cliff, and on three sides, it’s just straight down.”
Tasanasanta is barely visible
With the aid of a guide, Hodges and his climbing partner, Don Tasanasanta, of Woodinville, managed to scale Corkscrew. The top of the rock is about as big as a medium-sized pizza box, Hodges said, and he had to negotiate windy conditions in order to stand.
Just to reach Corkscrew, he said, requires crossing a 20-foot long bridge that’s about one foot wide. The view includes red cliffs and expansive valleys in every direction, and the winding Colorado River.
“It’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen,” Hodges said. “But it’s absolutely terrifying … The climb itself is so difficult that there’s parts where you’re literally hanging on by your fingernails, just trying to claw your way up.”
The descent might have been worse, he said. Hodges and Tasanasanta had never rappelled before, and their guide had already descended, so they were left to figure it out on their own. They burned their hands on the 400-foot rope but managed to make it down.
A self-described “adrenaline junkie” who works as a technology marketing representative, Hodges said he’s been doing these types of things most of his life. He lives in the Sahalee neighborhood, where he and his friends get their fix through “urban longboarding,” tying a ski rope to a golf cart and surfing around the streets.
“We’ve lost a lot of blood and skin doing that,” he said with a chuckle.
What does Hodges have on his plate next? A trip to Pamplona, Spain, in July for the famous Running of the Bulls spectacle.
“You don’t have to be the fastest person; you just can’t be the slowest person,” he said.
Hodges has a wife and four sons. He said his mother prays for him every day, and that he didn’t fully explain to his wife how dangerous the Corkscrew climb was.
“I also hope that none of my kids ever follow in my footsteps,” he added, laughing. “I want them to stay very grounded and never, ever do things like that.”