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North America, United States, Alaska, Alaska Range, Mt. Huntington, Golden Granite West Face, New Route

Mt. Huntington, Golden Granite West Face, New Route. Mentally noted in the summer of 1996, this route would take two tries to complete. A beautiful seam travels from the highest tongue of the glacial cirque of the Tokositna to the prominent tower 1,200 feet higher up. The route is surrounded by golden granite and black (active) avalanche streaks. The Colton-Leach route sits to the climber’s right and Polarchrome is the big gash/gully starting on the left side of the face.

The climbing posed many challenges to the original party, which used a traditional aid rack, including knifeblades, in 1998 (see AAJ 1999, pp. 255-256). Upon return in June, new- wave aid tactics simplified the thinner sections. All but Rod Willard took turns catching big air on tormented Toucans. This new route was not finished to the summit due to whip-cream- plastered snow ramps, but the climbing party did intersect the Polarchrome route (see Climbing magazine #88).

It was our hope to ascend the French Ridge and gain the summit. Rod Willard, Mike Gruber, Mark Thompson, and I spent a total of nine days scurrying up and down the wall to position ourselves for a French Ridge bid. As sloppy wet flakes blew in all directions, we retreated and sat in our tents for an additional five days before Hudson transport could squeak through. The route deserves no name other than the Golden Granite West Face, although we considered “Loveline” after our devoted sponsors. Actually, we got the strongest radio signal from a station in Anchorage that broadcast the sexpot talk show “Loveline.” Every night in base camp for two frickin’ hours, four guys in three tents listened to women call in and talk about their sexual fantasies. I won’t say much more, other than that our whiskey ran dry.

Brad Grohusky