Karsten Delap Tells Us How to Pack for a Climbing and Photography Expedition to Patagonia


Karsten Delap lives in a truck. He has a home in North Carolina, but in the past three years he has slept more nights in his truck or a tent than in his bed. And we’re jealous.

Karsten, 33, is a professional mountain guide and photographer, and an Ibex-sponsored athlete. In his 15 years of climbing, he has traveled across the United States and to Africa, Bolivia, Ecuador, Armenia, Thailand and more. His next adventure is to Patagonia, where he’ll partner with Derek Debruin and Kevin Shon to check out at a new route on Cerro San Lorenzo.

We caught up with Karsten via email, while he was at a weeklong meeting for the American Mountain Guide Association (AMGA), for which he serves on the board.

Ibex Question (IQ): Let’s start with the AMGA. You’re on the Board and you have an impressive list of certifications, yourself. Can you please put this in perspective for people who may be looking for a guide?

Karsten Delap (KD): The AMGA is a non-profit organization that inspires and supports a culture of American mountain craft. It is America’s leading climbing and skiing organization that offers cutting edge knowledge and hundreds of years of collective experience that is disseminated to its members.

Most people assume that their guide is certified, when in actuality you need no training whatsoever to work as a guide or climbing instructor. The AMGA provides a way for consumers to make sure that the guide they hire has met a minimum standard and has had training in the terrain that they are getting ready to recreate in which provides better client rewards and the latest standards in the industry to make sure they return in one piece.

IQ: You’re taking off soon for Patagonia. Tell us about the trip.

KD: We leave on the 10th of November. The trip will be around 20 days long.  Derek Debruin, Kevin Shon and myself are looking at a new route on Cerro San Lorenzo. This peak stands around 3700m [12,159-ft] and is located on the border between Argentina and Chile, just north of Perito Moreno National Park. It is the second highest peak in the Patagonian Andes and the summit is guarded by glaciers and long ridgelines.


IQ: Have you been to Patagonia before?

KD: I haven’t been to Patagonia before so for me, just getting there and being in the mountains will be a success.

IQ: You’ve climbed all over the world – recently exploring more and more exotic locales. What’s the draw to Patagonia?

KD: If you climb alpine, Patagonia is a huge draw. I have just never really had the chance to get there. I have been down to Argentina before, but that was for an Aconcagua Expedition.

IQ: When you’re planning a remote, 20-day expedition from afar, how do you begin? I realize this question could be a book in and of itself.

KD: Ha! Well I try to make a friend that has been to the area and then let them do all the logistics! Thanks Kevin!!!!


IQ: In climbing, when it can take years to set a clean route, how do you define success per specific expedition/attempt/etc.?

KD: I get asked similar questions a lot. Success is really just growth of one’s self. In the end it is about the adventure, friends, memories and cultures that you have, make, take and see. The climbing is usually just a vehicle to facilitate these.

IQ: How does photography fit in for you?

KD: Photography helps paint the picture and keeps the memories, as well as inspires others to pursue their dreams and grow within themselves.

IQ: When a trip is climbing-focused, what camera gear do you bring that fits with your climbing gear – not to mention that works with people who aren’t going to wait for you to “set up” the “perfect shot?”

KD: I have gotten really good over the years at getting the shot while climbing. Sometimes it doesn’t always work out and another angle could be way better. I carry an assortment of cameras. This trip I will take my iPhone, Canon G1X, Canon 5D Mark III, and two lenses.


IQ: Any photography tips for people who want to document the adventure, but need to be able to do it on the fly?

KD: Take the camera that you have and shoot. The one that you are scared to get dirty, wet or whatever will come home with a blank card. It is hard to get something from nothing.

IQ: It’s shameless promo question time! First, what kind of weather and conditions do you expect in Patagonia? Second, what Ibex gear will you pack for the conditions?

KD: I am expecting super poor conditions that will keep us in the tent the entire time we are there. From there it will all be icing on the cake! [Seriously], that is the best thing about wearing wool: When we are all three cooped up in the tent, we won’t smell too badly after two weeks! The Ibex woolies layers will come in handy in this situation!

IQ: Aside from the climbing, the photo opps and the sweet smell of three men in a tent in wool for three weeks, what do you most look forward to about traveling to a new place?

KD: The culture and friends.

We can’t think of a better way to wrap up an interview or an expedition. Thanks, Karsten. Good luck and safe travels. Enjoy the views!

Photo credit: Karsten Delap