AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

North America, United States, Alaska, Gurney Peak, Shadows-Sunshine Couloir; Citadel, East Buttress and Avalanche Peak, South Buttress, Kichatna Spires

Gurney Peak, Shadows-Sunshine Couloir; Citadel, East Buttress and Avalanche Peak, South Buttress, Kichatna Spires. In May Jack Lewis and I spent 25 days on the Shadows Glacier. During this time we had 18 days of good weather. We took five days climbing and descending the east buttress of Citadel (P 8520, Grade VI) which we believe was the second ascent of the 1976 Black-Embick-Graber-Long route. It was a beautiful combination of big-wall and alpine climbing. On May 16 we climbed Gurney Peak by a new route we called the Shadows-Sunshine Couloir. We ascended to the col, the Credibility Gap, between the Shadows and Sunshine Glaciers. A broad ridge took us to the bergschrund at the base of the couloir. We moved together up the lower 750 feet of the couloir in perfect step-kicking snow. A mixed pitch up a steep step on the left put us on ice. Six more pitches of moderate ice climbing brought us through a cornice and onto the summit ridge. Easy ridge climbing put us on the summit on a spectacular day when we could see only mountains in every direction. We descended mostly by down-climbing with two rappels. The round trip took us 12 hours. (Grade III.) On May 18 we made our first attempt on the south buttress of Avalanche Peak. After four pitches it was snowing and we descended to wait for a better day. On the 19th the weather was still unstable and so we climbed Vertex Peak by the 1966 Millikan-Roberts route. Roping up only for the crevasses on the hanging glacier and on the summit ridge, we were on top in three hours. On May 20 we skied back to Avalanche Peak and put on our EBs again. In a couple of hours we were back at our high point in perfect weather. I led only one pitch with aid. Two more free pitches and the angle let off. After a couple of hundred feet of lower-angle climbing, we were done. (Grade IV, 5.10, A3.) Though we were prepared to do a new line on the east face of Kichatna Spire, the good weather came to an end. Finally the weather miraculously cleared on the day of our pick-up.

Thomas Bauman