Next Level Skiing S5, E8 | Adrian Ballinger: Putting Work Into Fun

by Wagner Skis / Feb 27, 2023

S5, E8 – Adrian Ballinger: Putting Work Into Fun

Adrian Ballinger sits on the top of Mount Everest

Adrian Ballinger is mountaineering’s rare triple threat: a lifelong skier, a veteran on technical rock and a master of high-altitude ascents. Combining his ability to spend long days in extraordinarily thin air with his prowess on skis has made him the world’s top ski mountaineer. In May 2022 Ballinger became the first person to ski from Makalu, the fifth highest peak in the world. And it ranks as one of the gnarliest ski descents ever: a 9,000-foot breathless navigation of steep ice and rock that made him the first athlete to ever ski three 8,000 member peaks.

We caught up with Adrian in a rare quiet moment while his three-week old son napped and his wife, superstar climber Emily Harrington, skied with friends at Palisades Tahoe near their home. This is great chat, with Adrian riffing on his three attempts on Maluku in the last 10 years, risk tolerance as a new father, how to build comfort in high-consequence terrain and making sure that first turn is perfect. So many insights in this visit with a master.


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[3:17] Born in England and moved to Massachusetts at age 6
[5:45] 100-day seasons in Telluride after college
[10:30] Defying the European joke that American guides were climbers first and skiers second
[12:50] First attempts on Makalu
[18:50] Spring 2022 third attempt Makalu
[19:00] Bulletproof. Perfect climbing weather, not good ski conditions
[20:40] Managing risk as a new father
[24:10] There’s room for improvement to ski Makalu better
[28:10] Building comfort with high-consequence terrain takes practice
[29:50] Making sure that first turn is perfect. Practice that. 
[34:30] The Robot. Always methodical and thinking about the day. 
[38:00] Post traumatic stoke and finding beauty in the everyday


Adrian Ballinger's Website


S5: E1 – Chris Tatsuno: A Lot Less Ego, A Lot More Amigo
S5: E2 – Lee Cohen: The Cosmic Release
S5, E3 – Krista Crabtree: The Strength of Femininity in Skiing
S5, E4 – Nadar Jamal: Empowerment Through Skiing
S5, E5 – Steve Casimiro: The Transformation of Skiing
S5, E6 – Angela Hawse : Finding Your Center
S5, E7 – Mark Morris: An Ambassador to Life
S5, E8 – Adrian Ballinger: Putting Work into Fun

-- Next Level Skiing Recorded by Jason Blevins

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