Mark Twight

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Mark Twight
Born (1961-11-02) November 2, 1961 (age 55)
Yosemite National Park, California
Nationality American
Occupation mountain climber, strength and conditioning gym owner

Mark Twight (born November 2, 1961) rose to prominence in the world Alpine mountaineering community in the late 1980s and early 1990s with a well-documented series of difficult, dangerous alpine climbs in various ranges around the world.[1]


He made the first ascent of "The Reality Bath" on the White Pyramid with Randy Rackliff, which is unrepeated and described by Canadian Rockies guidebook author, Albi Sole as "so dangerous as to be of little value except to those suicidally inclined."[2] In his guidebook to the range Joe Josephson declared "The Reality Bath is undoubtedly the most dangerous ice route in the range."[3] That same season he established a speed record on the 925 meter-high "Slipstream" (2hrs 4min) on the east face of Snowdome.[4]

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).[5]

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 utterly 1,200 feet (370 m) below the summit of Nanga Parbat when a storm forced retreat down the biggest wall in the world, the Rupal Face, accompanied by Barry Blanchard, Kevin Doyle and Ward Robinson.[6][7] He did climb several smaller peaks including Kangtega, where he visited the main summit with Alison Hargreaves after the pair climbed a new route on the northwest face with Tom Frost and Jeff Lowe.[8]

Twight made several landmark 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.[9] By climbing for 39 hours non-stop on the second "day" Backes and Twight ushered in the single-push climbing movement.[10] 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, for whom Twight was a valuable mentor.[11][12][13] During his visits to the Alaska Range Twight participated in a variety of high-profile rescues.[14][15] Twight was nominated for the Piolet d'Or twice during his career, in 1993 for "Beyond Good and Evil" and 1995 for "Deprivation".

Personal life[edit]

Following the Slovak Direct ascent Twight retired from climbing, and during the next several years he focused on shooting pictures and guns.[16][17][18] In the mid-2000s Twight competed in ski mountaineering races in Europe and the US.[19] Twight has become a dedicated and serious road cyclist following shoulder surgery in 2006.[20] He has competed in a wide range of races, from omniums and hill climbs to the grueling LOTOJA (Logan to Jackson) Classic[21] and has also written essays about cycling on his own and other websites.[22][23] Twight has lived in Salt Lake City, Utah since the early 1990s and is married to Lisa Twight.


His first book, “Extreme Alpinism: Climbing Light, Fast and High”[24] (1999) won the Mountain Exposition award at the Banff International Mountain Book Festival[25] and the National Outdoor Book Award.[26] “Kiss or Kill – Confessions of a Serial Climber”[27] (2001) won the Mountain Literature[28] category at the Banff International Mountain Book Festival, 2001, and was shortlisted at the Trento mountain book festival in Italy, 2005.[29] 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.

Gym Jones[edit]

Mark Twight is the founder of Gym Jones,[30][31] where he trains athletes, military personnel, and others for whom fitness goes beyond appearance. At Gym Jones Twight and fellow trainers and coaches work with everyone from NFL players to MMA fighters, Brazilian jiu-jitsu competitors (a half-dozen Pedro Sauer black belts work and train there), bike racers, rock and mountain climbers,[32] and a variety of ultra-endurance athletes.

Twight is 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."[33] He was hired as the subject matter expert during the development of the Protective Combat Uniform (PCU) currently issued to special operations personnel.[34][35][36] Gym Jones' relationship to the military is largely absent on their website, though in the August 2009 issue of Muscle and Fitness Dan John quipped that, "There are people in there who officially don't exist, if you catch my meaning, but you sleep better because they do ... It's a whole different world when you're training with folks whose lives are on the line."[37]

In 2005 Twight trained the cast and stunt crew for the movie 300.[38][39] He adhered to his philosophy that "appearance is a consequence of fitness" to make the trainees strong and lean, which happened to give them the physiques of Spartan warriors.[40] "The first misconception is that we used a bodybuilding-type program of progressive overload and over-feeding with the goal of making the guys look huge. We took the opposite route of calorie restriction to make them look like they lived off the land, in the wild, all sinewy and ripped."[41] The training was difficult, Twight pulled no punches, refusing to differentiate between actors, stuntmen, or athletes. After being told the details of a day's workout Andrew Pleavin said, "It feels like you just killed my dog." [42]

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 wife, Lisa.[43] 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,[44] 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."[45]

As of 2014, Rob Macdonald (Bobby Maximus) has taken over as GM of Gym Jones.[46]



  1. ^ Mountainzone interview
  2. ^ Waterfall Ice: Climbs In The Canadian Rockies, Albi Sole 1988 2nd edition
  3. ^ Waterfall Ice: Climbs In The Canadian Rockies, Joe Josephson, 1994 Rocky Mountain Books
  4. ^ 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
  5. ^ American Alpine Journal, 2001 pp145 ISBN 0-930410-89-0
  6. ^ Extreme Alpinism: Climbing, Light, Fast And High, pp 103, Mark Twight, James Martin 1999 The Mountaineers Books, ISBN 978-0-89886-887-6
  7. ^ Mountainzone profile by Jim Martin
  8. ^ Ice World: Techniques and Experiences of Modern Ice Climbing, pp246, Jeff Lowe, 1996 The Mountaineers Books ISBN 978-0-89886-446-5
  9. ^ American Alpine Journal |year=1995, pp11, "Deprivation" on Mount Hunter by Mark Twight, 1995 American Alpine Club ISBN 0-930410-61-0
  10. ^ American Alpine Journal |year=2001, pp131 Baby Steps: Lessons From Alaskan Alpinism by Steve House 2001, American Alpine Club ISBN 0-930410-89-0
  11. ^ American Alpine Journal |year=2001, pp48 Mt McKinley's Slovak Route by Scott Backes 2001 American Alpine Club ISBN 0-930410-89-0
  12. ^ Denali National Park Jukebox interview
  13. ^ Steve House profile
  14. ^ PBS article regarding 2000 rescue
  15. ^ NPS Mountaineering Summary, 1995
  16. ^ Mark F. Twight, "Eat or Be Eaten" S.W.A.T., March 2000 (p. 60). PDF version at
  17. ^ "Dane Burns: Practical Guns For Serious Users" American Handgunner, March 2001 by Mark Twight
  18. ^ Surefire Tactics review of MARS THUG
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ [1] Extreme Alpinism: Climbing Light, Fast and High ISBN 978-0-89886-887-6
  25. ^ Banff International Mountain Book Festival Mountain Exposition award winners
  26. ^ National Outdoor Book Award 1999 winners
  27. ^ [2] Kiss or Kill – Confessions of a Serial Climber ISBN 978-0-89886-887-6
  28. ^ Banff International Mountain Book Festival Mountain Literature award winners
  29. ^ 34th Premio ITAS award winners, 2005
  30. ^ Outside Magazine, "Hell on Earth Fitness"
  31. ^ Wall Street Journal online
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^ Soldier Systems blog
  35. ^ Backpacker Magazine article
  36. ^ Sporting Goods Business Business, February 1, 2005
  37. ^ Muscle and Fitness, "Houses of Pain"
  38. ^ 300 main website
  39. ^ 300 Video Journal #3
  40. ^ Men's Fitness Top Ten
  41. ^ Gym Jones website commentary about 300
  42. ^ Men's Health article about 300
  43. ^
  44. ^ Twight's Disciple page at Gym Jones
  45. ^ Gym Jones T-Shirts Page
  46. ^

External links[edit]