Growing up in Puerto Madryn on the Patagonian coast, Damian Benegas and his twin brother, Willie, had to be creative when it came to finding places to climb. According to Damian, “The chimney of Willie’s girlfriend’s house and the clay sea cliffs on the coast of Peninsula Valdes were the only vertical things we had.” But they persevered, and it wasn’t long before Damian had graduated from 20-foot chimneys to soaring 20,000-foot mountain peaks, making a name for himself in the Andes and the Himalaya, in both Nepal and Pakistan.
Not content to climb where others have, Damian prefers the challenge of opening new routes, claiming that seeing traces of other climbers on a mountain gives him “too many clues.” In the spring of 2003, he and Willie climbed a new route they named “The Crystal Snake” on the north face buttress of Nuptse in Nepal, a feat for which they received Climbing magazine’s Golden Piton Award.
In addition to big-mountain climbs, Damian excels in traditional and sport climbing, with numerous first ascents and speed climbs under his belt. His favorite place to climb is Yosemite, California, where he estimates he’s made over 85 ascents of El Capitan in the past ten years. Yet no matter how high he sets his sights, Damian always remains grounded, reminding himself and others to “keep having fun — what counts is the process, not the summit.”
Damian specializes in filming mountain and outdoor adventures, more recently for ESPN.
Guiding Experience, Certifications, and Honors:
- 2011 Argentine Olympic Committee “Heroic Athlete Award” for rescue of abandoned climber on Everest
- Golden Piton Award for the First Ascent of “Crystal Snake”, north face of Nuptse, Nepal, 2003
- Nuptse, “The Crystal Snake”: new route on the north face buttress; Climbing magazine’s Golden Piton Award for best climb, 2003
- Over 50 ascents of Aconcagua on nearly all faces, including a new route on the west face: “Flight of the Condor”, 2002
- First ascent of “Swept by the Wind,” Patagonia, 5.13a, 1,000ft.,2001
- Oshapalca: first ascent of sout face, “My Message,” 5.7 WI 4/5, 2,400 ft., 2000
- About 85 ascents of El Capitan in 10 years.
- About 18 ascents of Half Dome in 10 years.
- Summited Ama Dablam 4 times
- Attempt on the North Face of Jannu
- 6 Everest Summits
- 2 Cho Oyu Summits
- 2 Lhoste Summits
- About 30 ascents of 20,000 ft. mountains in the South American Andes
- First ascents of Piedra Parada, 1993-2001