American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Middle Triple Peak Attempt, P 8055 and P 6000, Kichatna Mountains

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1986

Middle Triple Peak Attempt, P 8055 and P 6000, Kichatna Mountains. Chuck Comstock, John Harpole and I were landed on July 5 by Jay Hudson on the Caldwell Glacier in a gutsy landing with our first objective, the east buttress of Middle Triple Peak, just across the glacier. The Sunshine Glacier lived up to its name as during the entire three-week period we never suffered more than two consecutive storm days. Still, we were chased off the buttress twice by weather. Base Camp was four hours away initially, but we trimmed the time down to 2½ hours without even moving the tent. Fixing the first three pitches consumed the better part of a week, as bad days followed good. Finally on July 11 I jugged the lines up to John and Chuck, pulling our ropes as I went. My second lead, the fourth pitch, took us to a bolt belay. So far we had suffered severe rope-drag on the first pitch, a cut rope rappelling the second pitch in a storm, two falls on pitch 3 and an anchor at the base of pitch 4 which failed when I pulled outward on a Friend, breaking it free of its rotten placement. On pitch 5 I despondently suggested we descend immediately; a fall off two hooks and directly onto my belay left étriers a pitch below and two footfangs on the glacier. We rappelled off the route for good. The second half of the trip was an ascent of P 8055 in the southwest Spires. This, the last of Dave Roberts’ 8000ers (as listed by him in the old Summit article) was our second first ascent in the Spires. The first salved our egos after retreating off Middle Triple Peak. A gentle Arrigetch-like 6000-foot satellite of Buff Spire rewarded us with flowered belay ledges and aerial boulder problems on the summit ridge. We called the route up the long south buttress “Black Rose” for the elegant whorls of leafy lichen we found. John’s 5.10 pitch gave Black Rose some respectability and all roped pitches were beautifully enjoyable. (II, 5.10.) The rain began as we summitted. After a 1500-foot standing glissade with the sky shining orange between two blue-sky slices of bread, we were down and brewing under a boulder on the glacier. When the rain quit at three A.M., we began the trek to P 8055 (“Vug Tor”) over Perfect Echo and Monolith Passes. Now, P 8055 had been avoided by the likes of Bridwell, Embick, Porter and Roberts, the previous visitors to the Monolith Glacier. It is certainly not the most spectacular of the Kichatnas, but it gave all three of us substantial delight and feelings of accomplishment. On July 15, his birthday, Chuck offered John and me the long, steepish south buttress. He would wander instead up the fourth-class east face, which is similar to the north face of Colorado’s Longs Peak. We greedily accepted. Sixteen pitches later we emerged on the broken summit slopes. (“Burning Delight,” IV, 5.9.) We had followed ramps, hand cracks, finger cracks and face through a fairyland of granite. At least three pitches had been 5.9 and several others 5.8. A fun climb, it took us 24 hours round trip. After the climb we completed the circumambulation of the Triple Peaks by walking down the Monolith and up the Caldwell. Chuck did this wearing Fires inside his Koflach Ultra shells. Harpole and I walked, skied and floated to Chelatna Lake some 75 miles southeast of the Spires in five days, crossing the Getaway and Scorpion Glaciers and floating the Yentna River and Sunflower Creek in a Sherpa Packraft. On July 24 Hudson picked us up after getting Chuck and the gear off the Caldwell.

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