EXPRESS-ALPINISM FAILS IN ALASKA

Starting on Hunter

 

I’m just back from a climbing trip with American Colin Haley to the Central Alaska range. When we left, we had a lot of different objectives in mind and ambitious plans. We ended up without doing any of the bigger climbs we had hoped for, but nevertheless, we had a good trip. Our main objectives was to climb the North Buttress of Mt. Hunter and the Cassin ridge on Denali. We wanted to climb both as fast as possible, hopefully faster than it had ever been done before.

Colin updated his blog some days ago with words and pictures, check it out HERE. He’s not as lazy as me and has a more complete report. He’s english is a lot better also 😉

Here’s my quick resume of the trip:

We flew on to the glacier on May 12. and after some days of acclimatizing around base camp we climbed the 1200 meter high Deprivation on the north buttress of Hunter in just 9 hours, but never summited. When we toped out the final ice band it started to snow hard. We sat in a crevasse for some hours hoping for better weather, but it just got worse. We had no bivi gear and bailed, abseiling 30 or so abseils in very bad spindrift through the night.

After that we moved up on Denali, acclimatizing from 14.000 camp. We had skis so we did a bunch of skiing, often in good snow. We summited Denali twice, first climbing the Upper West Rib. Later we climbed up the Orient Express with skis and skied from the summit and down the Orient. Conditions were ok, but the snow was very hard in the upper half of the Orient.

After that it snowed a bunch and time started to run out. When the weather finally got better we decided to try Cassin. We knew there would be a lot of fresh snow on the route and if we had more time we would have waited for the snow to settle, but we didn’t. Conditions on the Seattle 71 ramp approach and in the Japanese Couloir were super good, but after that it was just snow, snow and more snow. When we got to the top of the third rock band we were so tiered that we decided to bail. We traversed the upper part of the south-west face back to the upper west rib and down to camp. A few days later, on June 21., we flew out of the range, Colin back to Seattle and me home to Norway.

Below there is a lot of pictures from the trip, click on images to see larger versions.