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North America, United States, Alaska, Alaska Range, Peak 8800 Ascent and Mount Foraker Massif, The Way

Peak 8800, Ascent, and Mount Foraker Massif, The Way. Not being able to find a partner for a June climb on the Foraker Massif, I found someone to do a day climb with. Tony and I climbed a low-angled snow gully on the south side of Peak 8800. The gully led up to a chimney of sorts. We climbed a full pitch of dry tooling, thin ice, and stemming until the 5.6 slot opened up. A shorter pitch on thick water ice led to easy snow slopes that we followed to the summit.

I still couldn’t find a partner for The Way, which is a spur ridge between Mount Crosson and the Japanese suicide route on Mount Foraker, so I planned for a solo attempt. Accessing the ridge by way of a 1,500-foot north-facing couloir cut off a large rotten rock step. The ridge was usually too thin for a fly to walk on, so I traversed along below the wild snow formation. I belayed about 20 pitches of cornice climbing and soloed the rest. The spur ridge topped out on the Sultana Ridge at 11,400 feet. I descended the Sultana Ridge. Due to weather, it had taken 16 climbing hours spread over six days to climb the spur ridge and 10 hours spread over three days (also due to poor weather) to descend. There was no rock on the route, a few pitches of steep ice, and lots of interesting snow climbing. I feel that The Way, with no objective hazards, interesting climbing, and a good camp halfway, would be a great way to climb Mount Foraker—that is, if you are familiar with cornice climbing and have the $150 peak fee.

Jeff apple Benowitz, unaffiliated