Highlighting our incredible mountaineers!

Dr. John (Johnny Alpine) Schutt

As you know, we have 2 amazing mountaineers for ANSMET: Dr. John Schutt and Mr. Brian Rougeux.
Dr. John Schutt is 70 years young (!!! and still absolutely killing it out here in the field) and this is his 38th Antarctic season. He’s only missed one season (1989) since he’s started coming down here. That season he boarded the plane to Christchurch, got boomeranged (plane turned around because couldn’t land safely on the ice), only to find out that the entire season got canceled because of logistics. He received an honorary PhD from Case Western University and has officially found more meteorites than any other human on this Earth (check his incredible Wikipedia page). He deserves a documentary.
Mr. Brian Rougeux is 37 years young and this is his 6th Antarctic season. He served our country in the military, got an undergraduate degree in Outdoor Education, and is currently building his home (with a little help from his family) in Haines, Alaska.
Below are some questions we asked these two humble men. Hopefully you enjoy this interview as much as we did! (It was a live recorded interview that the team conducted in the Science Tent. I wish I could just attach the audio files for your listening pleasure but alas, you’ll have to just read my transcript of it all.)
Hosie: What’s the closest you’ve been to dying? Rougeux: Umm… I don’t know… “(Team awkwardly sits waiting for more)…. Rougeux: That’s all I got! Johnny Alpine: …uh, yeah, actually… the time I was in the tent and Ralph took off his socks! (Team roars with laughter). Paul: “That’s a deadly one!”  Jim: “You gotta put that on the blog!”
Paul: What’s your favorite knot? Rougeux: That’s like asking who your favorite child is. *Same question to Johnny Alpine* Johnny Alpine: Yes.
Jim: Have you ever had to eat someone on your expeditions? Rougeux: I haven’t HAD to… I chose to. Paul: What did they taste like? Rougeux: It was delicious.

The honorable Brian Rougeux

Sheridan: Whats your favorite color? Johnny Alpine: Some shade of blue Rougeux: Maybe green-ish
Jim: Whats the one mountain that you haven’t climbed that you want to climb? Rougeux: Ohhh there’s way more than 1. There’s lots. I’ve tried St. Alias but I’d like to do that again. It’s in Alaska. Johnny Alpine: There’s just too many. Rougeux: All of them.
Paul: Favorite mineral?! Rougeux: I don’t think I have a favorite mineral. Johnny Alpine: Uddercrudite. Or uhhh Leaverite. Jim/Sheridan: What are those?! Paul: The ones you Leave-Her-Right-There.
Sheridan: Are you scared of the dark? Johnny Alpine: I am not. Sheridan: Then why do you sleep with the lights on? Johnny Alpine: Who says I sleep with the lights on?? Sheridan: Lots of people! Rougeux: It’s practice for out here. Johnny Alpine: I like the light. Because some day, it’s going to be dark all the time. (Commentary: that one really got me. It melted my heart.)

Hope you guys back home enjoyed the interview! And big thank you to these two for keeping us alive,


P.S. Seriously, the audio is hilarious. Really wish you could hear it!
P.S.S. Rougeux says he’s working on his blog post… ETA: February. 🙂
P.S.S.S. Jim says the last few days have been hard in the tent without the movies that Ralph apparently usually gives the team… why didn’t we get any famous Ralph movies this year?!
Caption: Johnny Alpine reading us Shackleton’s story at our nightly meeting and Brian listening intently.

Some notes added by rph:

-The 1989-90 season was cancelled by NSF. While a number of reasons were stated, hindsight suggests two factors; first that it was a solar max season so shortwave communications with deep field parties were awful (no satphones back then). Second was the fact that ANSMET is consistently one of the latest field parties to go into the field, and that makes us an obvious target when there are logistical issues.  Because we work up on the plateau (unlike most other field parties) we have learned to wait as long as possible, so the katabatics are over their austral spring tantrums. We’ve tried going in earlier (mid-November) but historically that’s when we’ve had 7-10 day storms rather than 2-3 day storms.  As a result going in earlier literally gains us no work days.

-I am fortunate that my feet, like comets,  are surrounded by a protective volatile-rich envelope.  I apologize for the field team’s shameful envy.

-I most decidely do NOT provide movies to the field team.  For years Jim has consistently bullied me trying to get me to provide HIM movies, and this is his pitiful attempt to influence me.  Think ahead,  buy yourself some movies next time Hockey Boy! Maybe something with captions so you can keep up with the plot.   And try not to move your lips so much when you read. He also bullies me for my secret GORP mix, and I usually give in on that, but keep it up and one day it’s gonna have a secret ingredient.

– With greatest respect to Monty Python….  “Rumors of cannibalism in ANSMET are completely false, absolutely untrue, nothing like that has or will ever happens.  We have the problem completely under control,  This kind of thing isn’t tolerated any more…. JOHN PUT DOWN THAT LEG!”