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North America, United States, Alaska, Chugach Mountains, The Gorge, Various Ice Climbs

The Gorge, Various Ice Climbs. In the Western Chugach Range, along the southeast edge of the massive Knik Glacier, lies a geological wonder known as The Gorge, a five-mile corridor lined by vertical glacial ice on one side and alpine walls on the other. Warm Pacific Chinook winds keep good flow on these walls, creating a spectacular area for waterfall ice. The gorge is about eight miles from any road, but a snow machine will allow for day climbing. The first climbs visible are on the right. The following climbs were made here in April, 1996: Steve Garvey led the dicey Eye of Opportunity (WI5, 150') and Three Amigos (WI4+, 140’). I climbed Overflow (WI4, 150') with Eddie Phay, while Garvey solved Happy Daze (WI3, 100'). Farther in, I climbed Vice Grip (WI3, 200') and Chopsticks Left (WI4, 190'), with Richard Baranow and Wendy Sanem in December, 1997. I climbed Chopsticks Rite (WI4, 170') and the beautiful Emerald City (WI3+, 420') with Jeff Jablonski. John Weiland and I climbed a 200-foot WI4 with rappel runners already in place in March, 1998. Farther into the gorge, Goatsbeard (WI3, 175'), Carbide (WI4, 200'), and Jack Frost (WI3, 300') decorate the walls. Dave Hart and I bashed our way up The Other Side of Life (WI4, 300') in minus 30-degree temps during the deep freeze of February, 1999. A small cove holds The Roaring Silence (WI4-, 260'). Two easy larger climbs, Snowball, a 250-foot hill of ice, and Promenade (200') follow; both are good for instruction. Jablonski and I climbed the classic Old Blue Eyes (WI4, 150'), Me Weeping Eyebrow (WI3, 165') and Steamroller (WI4, 200'), in February, 1999. Climbs here top out with stunning views into the heart of the Chugach Range, which includes Mt. Marcus Baker (13,176'). One-hundred-meter ropes are nice, and rappels are usually off alders. February and March are the best months to climb, with morning sun and thick plastic ice.

Martin Martinez