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North America, United States, Alaska, Ruth Gorge, Little Switzerland, Various Ascents

Little Switzerland, Various Ascents. On June 20, Rob Feeney and I flew into Little Switzerland and set up a base camp on the Pika Glacier. After a 24-hour rain storm, the clouds parted and we had mostly good weather for the next ten days. We spent several days cragging at the base of the Royal Tower and the Throne. We repeated some great routes and climbed some new lines as well. On June 24, we climbed the south face on the Middle Troll at 5.8 in seven pitches. On June 26, we climbed the east buttress of the Royal Tower in 13 60- meter pitches, joining The Chase for the last pitch. The climb took nine hours, two of which were spent on a ledge at the top of the ninth pitch waiting for a snow squall to let up. The climbing was primarily mid-fifth class on excellent rock. We called the route the Gargoyle Buttress (IV 5.10) for the distinctive boulder at the top of the route. Retreat slings from previous parties were found to the top of pitch 6. We rappelled the route in 15 pitches and left solid rappel anchors with descending rings. On June 29, we free climbed The Plunger, a small spire to the east of the Throne. The last pitch has an amazing overhanging thin hand crack that goes free at 5.12a/b.

Although there are few crack systems that continue to the top of the peaks in Little Switzerland, the individual pitches contain high-quality crack climbing.

Dave Anderson