Mount Bradley, Bourbon Bottle Route
United States, Alaska, Ruth Gorge
From June 14 to 18, Jim Donini and I did a new route on Mount Bradley’s southeast buttress from a base camp in the Ruth Gorge. The route, dubbed the Bourbon Bottle Route (in retaliation for Andreas Orgler’s Wine Bottle Route on Mount Dickey, and as tribute to our bottle of summit bourbon), ascends the center of three comer systems that split the southeast buttress to the right of the massive cleft that divides the south face of Bradley. We did the route in a four-day alpine-style push. The first 27 pitches of the route constitute a big wall nearly 1000 meters high, and the last 13 pitches are characterized by alpine rock, mixed, and snow climbing with significant route finding difficulties. The southeast buttress joins Bradley’s summit ridge 100 meters from the summit. We topped out in the evening of our fourth day and descended the western slopes of Bradley rather than rappel our route. This descent got us to the Backside Glacier, on the opposite side of Mount Bradley from our Base Camp. The interminable posthole through Pittock Pass to the Don Sheldon Amphitheater and back down the Ruth Gorge to our Base Camp took 36 hours to complete. We graded the route 5.8+A1+ to illustrate the absurdity of rating alpine objectives.