04 Jun Important exploration activity in the Alaska Range.
Important exploration activity was performed last may in the Alaska Range by Jay Smith and Jack Tackle, longtime veterans of Alaskan climbing.
The two alpinists warmed up with a rapid 16-hour round trip on the Rooster Comb, a seldom-climbed peak, 2,915 meters, in Matanuska-Susitna County, then they climbed three new routes on the southeast side of the Huntington massif.
The first completed was – in 39 hours – Prizefight (V 5.9R, WI4+/5 M6, 18 pitches) on the south peak of Huntington. Next, in a single day, they climbed two new routes on the east-facing formation they called the Scottish Wall: Lagavulin (III- 5.10 WI4+) and The Black Pearl (V WI5+ M6).
Then, several days later, they flew to the north side of Thunder Mountain, in the area of Mt Hunter, where they climbed a beautiful new route on the north face of this peak. The ascent lasted 2 days: on May 23, they climbed for 20 hours to reach their bivy; Jay Smith led the crux block including – Tackle said – “three really hard and impressive pitches, hard to rate, but all I know is that Jay said these were as hard as any pitches he has ever lead in the mountains.”
On the second day, they climbed 14 hours to reach the summit and after a long descent they were back at the tent 67 hours after leaving. The new itinerary was called Tangled Up in Blue (VI- WI6? M6/7?), 20 pitches, plus another 275 meters of simul-climbing. “Five routes, four of them new, in 18 days total, not bad for two old guys,” Tackle said.
Meanwhile Chris Thomas and Rick Vance made a rapid, nearly complete ascent of the Harvard Route at Mount Huntington, next they discovered a new line on the west face of Huntington, to the right of the popular West Face Couloir. Community College Couloir starts the same as the West Face Couloir but then branches right for 1,000 feet of climbing up to WI5 M7+, ending at the Nose pitch on the Harvard Route, from which the two descended. In the opinion of Thomas “a super fun climbing, always technical, but never desperate”.
Jack Tackle is native of Montana; certified Alpine Guide, has on his curriculum: First ascent of Mt. McKinley’s Isis face, Mt. Hunter’s Diamond Arete, Foraker’s Viper Ridge, Mt. Barille’s Cobra Pillar, Canadian Coast Range ascents. Mt. Siguniang, China. Mt. Everest West Expedition. Expeditions to Biafo Spires, Uzam Braak, and Biantha Braak (Ogre), in Pakistan. Cordilleras Blanca and Huayhuash in Peru. First ascent Elevator Shaft, Mt. Johnson, Alaska. North Face Mt. Kennedy, Yukon.
Jay Smith is as well a certified Alpine guide. He did almost 200 new routes in Canyonlands National Park Utah, 50 at Lover’s Leap California and more than 90 at Red Rocks Nevada. In the Himalaya, he did technical lines on peak as Kangtega and Lingtreng, in Patagonia Cerro Stanhardt, Cerro Torre and Central tower of Paine. In Yosemite, 3 new routes on El Capitan and 4 on Half Dome