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

North America, United States, Alaska, Royal Tower; Southeast Face, Little Switzerland

Royal Tower, Southeast Face, Little Switzerland. During a week-long trip to Little Switzerland, Lloyd Miller and I climbed on July 10 and 11 a new route on the southeast face of the Royal Tower (2478 meters, 8130 feet.) The route starts to the right of a narrow snow gully at the left (west) side of the face and follows a line between small snowfields on the west side of the face. From our camp on the Pica Glacier, we were forced into a long traverse around the bergschrund beneath the snow gully. The snow on the traverse was somewhat rotten in contrast to the excellent rock on the route. We bypassed the steepest rock at the base of the tower by heading up and slightly right in a corner system right of the narrowest part of the snow gully. Of the 13 pitches we did on the first day, two near the bottom and Pitch 7, were 5.6 or 5.7, and a couple of moves higher may have been 5.8, but route-finding kept most down to third or fourth class. As we climbed higher, the weather deteriorated and more of the climbing was on small snowfields. At one A.M., we bivouacked at the first cornice along the upper ridge. At four A.M., Lloyd yelled at me and I noted that it was snowing and blowing hard. After a couple of more hours of sleep and during a break in the storm, we got moving. The technical difficulties ahead did not appear very hard, but we could see only about a pitch and a half and so couldn’t tell how far we had to go. The summit turned out to be five rope-lengths from the bivi. After a horizontal section of ridge, we were forced to the west side to avoid rotten snow on the other. After climbing a pitch of fourth-class rock, we emerged onto the summit ridge. The snowstorm was at its peak and when I raised my ice axe on the southeast summit, it started buzzing. Given the poor weather, we headed down and did not continue on to the slightly higher north summit.

Peter Haeussler, Chugiak, Alaska