Mark Twight (born November 2, 1961) is an American climber, writer and the founder of Gym Jones. He rose to prominence as a mountaineer in the late 1980s and early 1990s with a series of difficult, dangerous alpine climbs in various ranges around the world. His radical, light-weight approach to alpinism has seen him regarded as an influential figure in the single-push movement.
|Born||November 2, 1961|
Yosemite National Park, California
|Occupation||mountain climber, strength and conditioning gym owner|
In 1988, Twight made the first ascent of "The Reality Bath" on the White Pyramid with Randy Rackliff, which remains unrepeated. The route has been described by Canadian Rockies guidebook author, Albi Sole as "so dangerous as to be of little value except to those suicidally inclined." In his own guidebook to the Rockies, Joe Josephson declared that "The Reality Bath is undoubtedly the most dangerous ice route in the range." That same season Twight established a speed record on the 925 meter-high "Slipstream" (2hrs 4min) on the east face of Snowdome.
Twight's first ascents in the Mont Blanc massif near Chamonix, France include "Richard Cranium Memorial" on the northwest face of Les Droites with Barry Blanchard (1990), "Beyond Good And Evil" on the north face of the Aiguille des Pelerins with Andy Parkin (1992), and "There Goes The Neighborhood" on the northwest face of the Aiguille Sans Nom with Scott Backes (1993).
In the Himalayas, Twight attempted more routes than he succeeded on, being turned away by the South Pillar of Nuptse with Jeff Lowe (twice), and shut down 1,200 feet (370 m) below the summit of Nanga Parbat when a storm forced retreat down the Rupal Face (accompanied by Barry Blanchard, Kevin Doyle and Ward Robinson). Other notable Himalayan climbs include the first ascent of the northwest face of Kangtega with Alison Hargreaves, Tom Frost and Jeff Lowe.
Twight made several notable ascents in the Alaska Range. In 1994, he and Scott Backes climbed "Deprivation" on Mount Hunter in 72 hours roundtrip, which halved the previous fastest ascent of the North Buttress. The 39 hours non-stop ascent is considered a landmark moment in the single-push climbing movement. Twight's participation in this style of climbing culminated with the 60-hour ascent of the Slovak Direct on the south face of Denali in June 2000 with Backes and Steve House. During his visits to the Alaska Range, Twight participated in a variety of high-profile rescues. Twight was nominated for the Piolet d'Or twice during his career, in 1993 for "Beyond Good and Evil" and 1995 for "Deprivation".
On February 25, 2017 Twight received the Robert and Miriam Underhill Award from the American Alpine Club. The award is given annually, "to a person who, in the opinion of the selection committee, has demonstrated the highest level of skill in the mountaineering arts and who, through the application of this skill, courage, and perseverance, has achieved outstanding success in the various fields of mountaineering endeavor."
He also consults as the technical director of Mountain Mobility Group, LLC, which provides "cold weather, high altitude, and fitness training, as well as R&D for the Department of Defense." He was hired as the subject matter expert during the development of the Protective Combat Uniform (PCU) currently issued to special operations personnel.
In 2005, Twight trained the cast and stunt crew for the movie 300, adhering to a philosophy that "appearance is a consequence of fitness". One training regimen that his crew underwent in the movie came to be known as the 300 Workout, spawning many variations by other fitness personalities and trainers.
The name "Gym Jones" was chosen by Twight's former-wife, Lisa. It is a reference to People's Temple leader Jim Jones. On the Gym Jones website, Mark Twight claims his favorite drink is Flavor Aid, the same product that Jones' followers mixed with cyanide in one of the largest murder-suicides in recent history in 1978. Additionally, one of the few Gym Jones shirts available for public purchase comes with the line "there's a fine line between salvation and drinking poison in the jungle" printed on the back. Twight says that "wearing it in public will require some commitment. Some readers will be offended, while others will merely scratch their ignorant heads."
After leaving climbing, Twight took up photography and competitive pistol shooting. In the mid-2000s Twight competed in ski mountaineering races in Europe and the US. Twight has become a dedicated and serious road cyclist following shoulder surgery in 2006. He has competed in a wide range of races, from omniums and hill climbs to the grueling LOTOJA (Logan to Jackson) Classic and has also written essays about cycling on his own and other websites. Twight has lived in Salt Lake City, Utah since 2001.
His first book, “Extreme Alpinism: Climbing Light, Fast and High” (1999) won the Mountain Exposition award at the Banff International Mountain Book Festival and the National Outdoor Book Award. “Kiss or Kill – Confessions of a Serial Climber” (2001) won the Mountain Literature category at the Banff International Mountain Book Festival, 2001, and was shortlisted at the Trento mountain book festival in Italy, 2005. His personal website contains much recent writing about fitness, mental attitude, and other topics. His essays and articles have been published in seven countries, and translated into five languages.
- Mountainzone interview
- Waterfall Ice: Climbs In The Canadian Rockies, Albi Sole 1988 2nd edition
- Waterfall Ice: Climbs In The Canadian Rockies, Joe Josephson, 1994 Rocky Mountain Books
- Speed Climbing! How to Climb Faster and Better, Vol 2, pp108, Hans Florine, Bill Wright 2004, Falcon Press Publishing ISBN 978-0-7627-3095-7
- American Alpine Journal, 2001 pp145 ISBN 0-930410-89-0
- Extreme Alpinism: Climbing, Light, Fast And High, pp 103, Mark Twight, James Martin 1999 The Mountaineers Books, ISBN 978-0-89886-887-6
- Mountainzone profile by Jim Martin
- Ice World: Techniques and Experiences of Modern Ice Climbing, pp246, Jeff Lowe, 1996 The Mountaineers Books ISBN 978-0-89886-446-5
- American Alpine Journal |year=1995, pp11, "Deprivation" on Mount Hunter by Mark Twight, 1995 American Alpine Club ISBN 0-930410-61-0
- American Alpine Journal |year=2001, pp131 Baby Steps: Lessons From Alaskan Alpinism by Steve House 2001, American Alpine Club ISBN 0-930410-89-0
- American Alpine Journal |year=2001, pp48 Mt McKinley's Slovak Route by Scott Backes 2001 American Alpine Club ISBN 0-930410-89-0
- Denali National Park Jukebox interview
- Steve House profile Archived 2010-09-19 at the Wayback Machine
- PBS article regarding 2000 rescue
- NPS Mountaineering Summary, 1995
- Outside Magazine, "Hell on Earth Fitness" Archived 2010-09-19 at the Wayback Machine
- Wall Street Journal online
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-02-01. Retrieved 2014-01-30.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Soldier Systems blog
- "Backpacker Magazine article". Archived from the original on 2010-02-21. Retrieved 2009-10-08.
- Sporting Goods Business Business, February 1, 2005
- 300 main website
- 300 Video Journal #3
- Men's Fitness Top Ten
- Twight's Disciple page at Gym Jones Archived 2007-08-09 at the Wayback Machine
- Gym Jones T-Shirts Page Archived 2010-03-16 at the Wayback Machine
- Mark F. Twight, "Eat or Be Eaten" S.W.A.T., March 2000 (p. 60). PDF version at http://www.rangemaster.com
- "Dane Burns: Practical Guns For Serious Users" American Handgunner, March 2001 by Mark Twight
- Surefire Tactics review of MARS THUG
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-11-05. Retrieved 2014-01-30.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Extreme Alpinism: Climbing Light, Fast and High ISBN 978-0-89886-887-6
- Banff International Mountain Book Festival Mountain Exposition award winners
- National Outdoor Book Award 1999 winners
- Kiss or Kill – Confessions of a Serial Climber ISBN 978-0-89886-887-6
- Banff International Mountain Book Festival Mountain Literature award winners
- 34th Premio ITAS award winners Archived 2011-07-22 at the Wayback Machine, 2005