20 Jun Alaska news
Alaskan spring offers this year lots of new important itineraries completed by mostly American and British team. So Gavin Peak (a British based in Chamonix) and James Clapham invented two new routes in Denali area. After warming up on the awesome steep couloir of Shaken, not Stirred on the south face of the Mooses Tooth, they headed over to Peak 11,300 for an attempt at the first ascent of the east face.
The initial attempt on a line on the right side of the face was ended when the blobs of white spied from the glacier stuck to an 80-degree slab turned out to be powder, not ice.
So they turned their attention to the obvious central couloir that falls directly from the summit, with the cost of accepting the objective danger of the line (which is overhung by a serac). The pair climbed most of the couloir, which they named Night of the Raging Goose (V WI5 1500 meters ), at night to minimize the risk, passing through a crux section of 10m of vertical ice in the narrows halfway up the wall.
After spending a week sitting out a storm and waiting for everything to settle, they turned their attention to the north face of Mt Church. The first ascent of the face was made by a Japanese team last year. After deciding against the deep chimney line that later gave Jon Bracey and Matt Helliker For Whom The Bell Tolls, they elected to get on the central line of the face, to the left of the Japanese route, Memorial Gate.
Amazing Grace (V AI4 1200 meters ) gave good quality alpine ice in the narrows, which they simulclimbed, making fast progress to high on the face. The 65 degree snow of the upper face proved hideously loose and unconsolidated, with one particularly funky pitch being christened The Burrows. After the two British topped out the face, they started up the east ridge towards the summit. This had some very delicate cornicing, which was proved when James took an unscheduled ride down the north face after a large section of the cornice collapsed.
Thankfully, nothing more serious than a bruised leg and coccyx resulted, but they were forced to bivvy near the summit nonetheless. They picked their way down the much safer north ridge the next day, eventually hitting the camp in the Gorge after nearly 24 hours without food or water.