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North America, United States, Alaska, Brooks Range, Arrigetch Peaks, Various Ascents

Arrigetch Peaks, Various Ascents. On June 15,I flew to Fairbanks, Alaska, where I met up with Fred Beckey, Dave Medara and Canadians Rick Clements and Kai Hirvonnen. Fred was the trip organizer; Dave had invited me to join him. From Fairbanks, we flew Frontier Airlines in a small plane to the town of Betties, located centrally and on the southern side of the Brooks Range. On June 18, we flew from Koyukok River and landed on Takahula Lake. We hiked one day to reach the site where supplies had been air-dropped to help ease our approach. On the third day, Fred, concerned for his health, decided he would turn back. At 75 years old, Fred is a living legend and, with his ability to carry heavy packs and hike all day, an inspiration. He still does trips with the same fervor as ever. With his departure, our party then consisted of only the four youths. On June 21, we had a camp established high in the Aiyugomahalla Creek Valley (a.k.a. Creek 4662).

On June 23 and 24, Dave Medara and I climbed a new route on the northwest face of the Shot Tower. We began climbing at about 6 p.m. on the 23rd; by 5 p.m. on the 24th, we sat on the summit admiring the majestic view of the surrounding peaks. We descended in about five hours down the west ridge, Dave Robert’s first ascent route. We named the route the Alaskan Magnum Wall (V 5.10 A3) after the brand name of pepper spray we carried for protection from bears. We climbed the route in 11 roped pitches; the wall is about 1,800 feet high.

While we climbed the Shot Tower, our friends Rick and Kai climbed a new route up the north face of the Pyramid, one of the sweetest looking lines in the region. It ascends a prominent ridge that divides two symmetrical faces on the Pyramid. They climbed 15 roped pitches, then rappelled their route, climbing and rappelling for about 30 hours during their 48-hour assault.

After a little rest, Dave and I decided to climb another mountain, the Badille, via the 700- foot southeast buttress. The route went all free in five pitches at 5.10+. It took us about nine hours round-trip from our camp.

As we did this route, Rick and Kai headed up the Shot Tower, where they climbed the West Ridge, calling it “a great alpine rock climb in a fantastical setting.” After our forays, we were all slightly tired out and decided we would climb the more moderate east face of the West Maiden. From camp we climbed the steep talus slopes to the base of the West Maiden, where four roped pitches up good 5.9 cracks brought us to the summit. Looking down, we could see the proud 2,000 foot north face of the West Maiden, which all goes at 5.9. From here, we rappelled down the east ridge, and a moderate 4th-class scramble brought us to the summit of the East Maiden.

On July 1, we all shouldered huge backpacks and arrived back at Takahula Lake on July 2.

Jonny Allen, unaffiliated