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

North America, United States, Alaska, Ruth Gorge, Mt. Barille, Northeast Buttress, Forever More

Mt. Barille, Northeast Buttress, Forever More. I arrived on the Ruth Glacier on May 21. A 12-day storm kept me in my tent until June 2. The next day, I undertook an attempt of a new route on the south face of Mount Dickey, but the granite was so greatly affected that it would in no way allow me to get any safe protection or set up a secure anchor. Though there already existed two routes on the east face of Barille, the northeast buttress—2,700 feet high and 1,200 feet of it a sheer buttress cut by several roofs and ledges—still remained unexplored. On June 7, I passed over the heavily tom glacier at the foot of the peak and then reached the rock itself. Starting in a dihedral system, I managed to climb 300 feet that day and fix the rope. I spent the night in the tent and the next day continued the ascent. Using the same technique, I reached a big roof that stuck out six feet beyond the face. I climbed it precisely with cams and reached the headwall. Fifty feet higher was the beginning of a wide crack almost 300 feet high. I had to use sky hooks. The whole next day was devoted to climbing that long stretch of offwidth. On the fourth day of the ascent, when I was already in the upper part of the buttress, I came across a small sloping ledge that turned out to be a stretch of pulpy rotten granite. This ledge cost me a lot of nerves.

On June 12, I finally reached the top of the rock buttress. Above was a series of simple rock and big ledges. Climbing it, I encountered loose stones and blocks. That relatively easy part of the face was followed by another buttress that was not so sheer as the previous one. I spent the fifth night of the ascent in the middle of the buttress. The sixth day was the longest. After climbing another 450 feet, I reached the snowfield. To get to the summit, I had to climb the 300-foot snowfield, two moderately difficult rocky stretches, and about 900 feet of snow slope that smoothly transformed itself into the ridge. I decided to leave the tent behind. It took me four hours, sticking deeply in the molten snow, before I reached the summit of Mount Barille.

The sky turned black with storm. Descending cost me an hour and a half. I reached the tent in the company of strong wind and heavy rain. Such dreadful weather lasted until midnight. The entire next day, June 14, I retraced my way down. At 10 p.m., I crawled into the lonely tent on the glacier, very tired. I called the route Forever More (ED+ VI 5.10 A3, 900m).

Valeri Babanov, Russia