Willie Benegas

Founder and Owner

Willie spent his youth climbing in Patagonia with his father and twin brother, Damian. This served as a strong background for a his career, which took-off when he and Damian moved to the States at the age of 21, headed straight for the big walls of Yosemite. In the years to follow they made over 80 ascents of El Capitan. Each year Willie has returned to Argentina to guide trips on Aconcagua, which he has climbed over 50 times. These ascents include the difficult South face and a speed record that he held for five years.

In 1995 Willie rose to fame when he obtained the first ascent of the 3,000-foot North Face of Pakistan’s Nameless Tower (“Book of Shadows” VII, 5.10+ A4 W14). He has since led over 20 Himalayan expeditions, including thirteen Everest summits, Cho Oyu, Ama Dablam, an attempt on the North face of Jannu, and the “The Crystal Snake” first ascent on Nuptse. This accomplishment made with his brother Damian in 2003 won them Climbing magazine’s Goldhen Piton Award. Willie has also set speed records in Africa on Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Kenya, made three attempts on the highly coveted Pakistani peak Latok 1, done first ascents on the big walls of Baffin Island and climbed dozens of Bolivian and Peruvian peaks.
Willie is a certified AMGA Rock and Alpine Guide. He is a fully certified IFMGA mountain guide and AMGA Ski Mountaineering Guide, spending his winters as a ski patroller in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah.

Willie is often asked the question, “Why do you climb?” His response echoes his philosophy on life: “A mountain adventure will carry over into the many facets of life, teaching you about yourself, your co-existence with nature, and respect for other people’s cultures.” , He has truly earned his place among the world’s mountaineering elite.

Guiding Experience, Certifications, and Honors

  • Fully certified IFMGA mountaineering/ski guide
  • 2011 Argentine Olympic Committee “Heroic Athlete Award” for rescue of abandoned climber on Everest
  • 2010 AMGA Outstanding Guide of the Year
  • 22 years of guiding experience and over 20 Himalaya expeditions
  • AMGA Certified Rock and Alpine Guide
  • AAIRE Level III Avalanche Certification
  • Wilderness EMT
  • Leave No Trace Certification
  • National Ski Patrol Association- Snowbird Ski Patrol
  • Golden Piton Award for the First Ascent of “Crystal Snake”, north face of Nuptse, Nepal, 2003

Notable Ascents

  • Thirteen Everest Summits
  • Over 50 ascents of Aconcagua, Argentina
  • Aconcagua: world speed record ascent/descent, 23 ½ hs round trip, 54 miles, 13,500 ft. elevation gain, 2000
  • 22 mountains in 21 days, Cordillera Real Bolivia, 2006
  • Everest and Cho Oyu Summits in one season, 2005
  • Cho Oyu and Makalu Summits in one season, 2014
  • Everest and Lhotse Summits in one season, 2018
  • Mount Manaslu Summit, 2017
  • First ascent of “The Crystal Snake,” north face of Nuptse, Nepal, 2003
  • Mt. Kenya: all massif towers in 16 hours, 2002
  • 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 hs, 2000

 

Languages spoken: English and Spanish.

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