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North America, United States, Alaska, Igikpak, Northeast Face and Upper East Ridge, Brooks Range

Igikpak, Northeast Face and Upper East Ridge, Brooks Range. September 2 found me at 1:30 at 5200 feet below the glacial headwall of Igikpak’s east face with 85 feet of 7-mm rope, 4 carabiners, 2 nuts, 6 slings a geology hammer and a pocketful of chockstones. The ascent zigzagged up the gossan-stained, jointed, exfoliated granitic ledges that cut obliquely across the northeast face. The route intersected the east ridge at 7100 feet but avoided a jagged spire that guarded the tooth-like ridge at 6800 feet. Weaving back and forth along the sharp but broken and slabby ridge, I came to the spectacular summit block, a pedestal in the sky. Gear left by the first-ascent party assisted me over this otherwise technically impossible spot to complete the second ascent by a new route. Swirling clouds and fading light suddenly slapped me back to cold reality. A slow and nervous descent to 7100 feet took me to a frigid bivouac. Gusty winds and dropping temperatures made me shake uncontrollably for an eternity. A sudden break in the weather and wind at 5:30 spurred me to descend a broken path on the northeast face, using sloping ledges and 60-foot rappels secured by natural anchors. The next day I lined an inflatable kayak down the Noatak River to 12-Mile Creek, where I waited in vain for a couple of days for friends. I then paddled 365 miles down the river to Noatak village in 7½ days … ending an indescribable spiritual experience of being alone in the Brooks Range.

Steve W. Hackett