Who wants to be just like their big sister—first-chair clarinet and degree in economics? Mark Twight sure didn’t. So, he started climbing mountains in his early 20s. One thing though. He was scared of heights. To ease into it, or up to it, there were ways he could condition and prepare for a climb in a safer environment, an indoor, warm facility. However, while scaling The Reality Bath, a 3,000-foot frozen waterfall with no ropes, Mark had to face the lights-out reality that would result from failing.
His athletic prowess is legendary—Mark Twight made first ascents in the Americas, Europe and Asia. For 20 years, his life was climbing. When asked, “How do you mitigate fear while taking those kinds of risks?” he replied:
“There’s no hack for that.”
“Our relationship to risk, you can harness and utilize. It’s like driving on a highway. We condition ourselves to its dangers and accept what comes with that, it serves a purpose, and we take that on. You can break it down into component parts, reductionist methods, do the thing you are mentally able to, learn techniques, and ask yourself, why is this scary?”
Mark believes that most of us blow things out of proportion. By merely asking ourselves “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” we often avoid taking on a challenge that we are capable of.
Because, Mark believes, avoiding a challenge isn’t bad. But then again Mark has lost more than 40 friends and close climbing partners along the way.
In 2000, Mark along with Scott Backes and Steve House completed a non-stop push of the 6194-meter Slovak Route on Denali in 60 hours (previous ascents had taken more than a week). After that record, he hit a point where he didn’t have anything else to prove, at least to the climbing world. He walked away from the sport.
Even Aquaman Needs a Trainer
The eye-candy associated with this article is none other than Jason Momoa. As a subject in many of Mark’s photos, the two worked together on set, as Mark became Aquaman’s personal trainer. Their stars aligned, Jason got ripped and now they’re friends. While shooting photos for his book Jason agreed to model, and aren’t we glad he did?
But he still needed to prove something to himself. Could life on the valley floor be enough? Even while training Navy military units and hot-stuff actors like, Jason Momoa, he struggled with depression and feelings of hopelessness. Adapting to his new way of life and at his lowest point, Mark says that he discovered how to love, something he says he’d never known how to do. He found Echo, his beloved canine companion who passed away in 2016.
Mark now resides in Salt Lake City. Together with business partner, Michael Blevins, he is working toward building a training facility, a gallery and learning space. They also started The NonProphet, a local media company producing Zines, his latest book REFUGE and a weekly podcast, The Dissect—examining the intersection of art and action. While always passionate about photography and writing, he finds the beauty in the small stuff, punk rock, his love of dogs and the unique vantage points from his studio near the 900 East underpass.
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