Asgard, North Face of North Tower, “Valkyrie.” Chris Breemer and I put up a new line on the north face of the north tower of Asgard, which we completed on July 24 (VI, A4+; 14 pitches.) We had two days of good weather out of the fourteen we were on the wall, which was steep enough to avoid the falling ice. On July 9, we were helicoptered to the Turner Glacier and spent a couple of days hauling gear to the foot of the wall. We began the ascent on July 12, but were trapped in our portaledge for five days after climbing 350 feet. We climbed another 400 feet before being hit by a second storm, during which a rock ripped through the rainfly and grazed my forehead. We continued to climb in miserable weather until we had completed two-thirds of the climb. Then the weather cleared, allowing us to complete three pitches in a 30-hour push. Bad weather soon returned, turning the final pitch into a gushing water streak. The Swiss route down the other side of the peak was too dangerous because of avalanches to be used for the descent, so we went down the ascent route. We encountered some of the finest rock we have ever climbed on. It is extremely hard and its rough texture gave plenty of opportunities for hooking, but it also snapped drill bits like candy cane. Nearly all blank sections, as viewed from the ground, opened up with small, obscure features. Unfortunately, the rough texture also offered plenty of opportunity for rope damage. We had hoped to do Thor, but ropes were destroyed and we had to leave a lot of pins and stoppers on our descent of Asgard. That is for next year!
*Recipient of an American Alpine Club Mountaineering Fellowship grant.