His ambition: "help and teach people about the simplicity of life by being in the mountains"
Born and raised in the wild heart of Patagonia, Guillermo “Willie” Benegas has pursued a long apprenticeship in the mountains. His passion for climbing and exploration has taken him in search of adventure worldwide, from the big walls of Yosemite to the airy summits of South America and the loftiest peaks of the Himalaya. Willie’s first major ascent was completed in the winter of 1987 with a route up Patagonia's West Face of Piltriquitron (VI, 5.9 A3 W2/3), a feat which has yet to be repeated. At age 20, he climbed Aconcagua's impressive South Face, as well as Fitz Roy. In the following years, Willie "ticked off" the first ascent of the North Face of Pakistan’s Nameless Tower ("Book of Shadows" VII, 5.10+ A4 W14), made record speed ascents in Yosemite Valley, and attempted major new routes on the legendary North Faces of Thalay Sagar and Jannu. Noteworthy feats since the millennium include setting the world record for a speed ascent/descent of Aconcagua (22,831 ft.), running the legendary Leadville Ultra 100-mile race and summiting Everest five times. Perhaps Willie’s biggest achievement to date, however, is his first ascent of the “The Crystal Snake” of Nuptse in Nepal, done with his brother Damian in the spring of 2003, for which they won Climbing magazine’s Golden Piton Award.
Favorite Destination: Any mountain on the planet.
Favorite The North Face® Product: The Red Point Jacket is a great layer. Diad Jacket. I use The North Face shoes for running 100 miles to the summit.
Proudest Moment: Anytime I summit a mountain with my brother or teammates Hillary, Xasha, and John; that definitely is my proudest moment.
Cause(s): Helping other people to be able to share my experience in life in my home or in other countries.
Words To Live By: It's not about the summit, it is about the process that counts. And of course the motto: Never Stop Exploring.
Favorite Cook and Dish: Our cooks in Pakistan, Falxir. He cooks the best Argentinean pasta ever.
Most Humbling Moment: Being in Kashmir, surrounded by so much disaster, particularly when an elderly person called me an angel because I offered my hand to him.
Ambition: Help and teach people about the simplicity of life by being in the mountains.
Inspiration Within the Sport: The soul of The North Face: Never Stop Exploring. My brother and his endless energy to do that. My team mates who believe in that, and of course any mountain, any rock, any wave in the ocean, and my Sherpa friends.
Dream Vacation: At the moment I have a dream of climbing all the 8000 wtr in the planet and more important be able to complete the reality with my brother and friends Hilary, Xasha, Jimmy, and John.
. Mt. Everest summit, 2005 (fifth time summiting)
. Cho Oyu, Pakistan, four first ascents, 2005
. First ascent of "The Crystal Snake," north face of Nuptse, Nepal, 2003
. Mt. Kenya: all massif towers in 16 hours, 2002
. Aconcagua: world-record ascent/descent, 54 miles, 13,500-ft. elevation gain, 2000
. Oshapalca: new route south face, "My Message," 5.7 WI 4/5, 2,400 ft.,2000
. Mt. Cuerno: first ascent of south face (17,600-ft.), 5.7 WI 3, 4,640 ft. in 4.36 hours round-trip solo, 2000
. First Ascent Argentina: Andes "Welcome to a Dream," V 5.11 A4+, 1999
. The Pandora Box of Artensoraju, 5.9 WI 3, 1998
. Nameless Tower, "Book of Shadows," VII 5.10+ A4 W14, 1995
. 20/20 Classics Climb: climbed 20 of the climbs from 50 Classic Climbs of North America in 20 days; ascended 60,080 feet, traveled 137 miles on foot, 2 hours by canoe, and climbed 241 pitches, 1993
. Fitz Roy: Super Canaleta, VI 5.10b A1 WI 3, 1987
. Patagonia: first place, 62.5 mile endurance run, 9.35 hours, 1986
. South face of Aconcagua, French route, speed ascent, two days
. Atensoraju (19,328 ft.): new route of north ridge/face
. Patagonia Exploration: first ascent of "Swept by the Wind," 5.13a, 1,000 ft.
. "The Nose": VI 5.11 A1, 16 ascents, ten one-day ascents
. "South Seas," VI 5.10 A5
. "Sea of Dreams," VI 5.10 A5
. "Regular Route," VI 5.10 A1, 20 times (fastest time: 3:30)
. Nominated best Col guide at Everest by explorerweb.com
. Alpinist, Issue 5, winter 2003-2004: article with cover shot
. American Alpine Journal, full article, 2003
. OLN: "Outlaws of the Aconcagua Trail," 2001
. Discovery Channel: "Swimming with the Whales," 1991