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

North America, United States, Alaska, Brooks Range, West Maiden, North Prow

West Maiden, North Prow. On August 1-2, Loma Corson, Randy Farris, Mike Menoloscino and I climbed a possible new route on the north side of the West Maiden. We began our climb by traversing left across the wide ledge that is a prominent feature on the lower right side of the face. We then climbed up from the ledge at a couple of small patches of snow and ice below the second major weakness on the face above. After talking with John Markel, I believe this is where their original Markel-Duggan North Buttress route heads straight up. Our route angled up and left for four pitches and led to a comer system near the actual prow of the buttress. These pitches were wet, exposed to rockfall and not entirely enjoyable. From this point on, though, the climbing and rock improved dramatically. We climbed on, or just to the west of, the crest of the actual prow for the next 16 long pitches. The climbing was rarely easier than 5.7 and never harder than 5.9 or easy 5.10. While most of the climbing involved good crack climbing, there were also several pitches of very runout face. The last pitch avoided a chimney by climbing a perfect one-inch crack through a roof with the whole route dropping away below. We called our climb The Maiden Voyage (V 5.9+ R). A true classic.

For descent, we had planned to rappel the gully to the east of the East Maiden. However, as we arrived at the summit at 2:15 a.m. in a gathering storm, we were forced to descend into the Ayagomahalla Valley and suffer through a rainy and foodless 15-mile bushwhack back to our camp in Arrigetch Creek’s south fork. We climbed 20 60-meter pitches, used no pitons or bolts and left the route in the same pristine shape that we found it.

Norm Larson