American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Denali National Park, Ruth Glacier, Peak 10,370'; Peak 11,300' Attempt; Moose's Tooth, Shaken Not Stirred

  • Climbs And Expeditions
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  • Publication Year: 2002

Ruth Glacier, Peak 10,370'; Peak 11,300' attempt; Moose’s Tooth, Shaken Not Stirred. On May 15 Jared Ogden and I were dropped by Talkeetna Air Taxi on the West Fork of the Ruth Glacier. Our plan was to try the east face of Mt. Huntington, but the weather was not cooperating. On our second day in camp we climbed a couloir in the middle of the east face of a 10,370-foot peak just north of our camp. The knife-edge ridge at the top involved a mandatory rappel, and since there was no anchor, we think we may have done a new route. We turned back in a white- out about 200 feet below the top and had an exciting descent down a different route from what we climbed. After an aborted attempt on the Southwest Ridge of Peak 11,300', during which a snow cave collapsed on us, we packed up our sleds and headed down to the Ruth Amphitheater, where the weather was clearly better.

We bivied below Mt. Barille and the next day made the long climb up to the hanging glacier below the south face of the Moose’s Tooth. We lay around in our bags for a few hours, then at 3 a.m. began climbing a gully called Shaken Not Stirred. Conditions were excellent. Most of the climbing was straightforward, with the exception of one difficult chockstone capped with an overhang of unconsolidated sugar snow. We arrived at the Englishmans Col at about 9 a.m., having simulclimbed most of the route. From there, rather than heading left to the west summit and a descent of the west ridge, we headed right, toward the middle summit. The first pitch from the col onto the ridge was very difficult, involving vertical climbing on unconsolidated snow and ice, but it deposited us onto a wild Peruvian-style ridge. After more simulclimbing we reached the middle summit about noon. We paused briefly, then continued along the ridge. Our plan was to continue traversing until we found Ham and Eggs, a popular route that has fixed rappel anchors. Unfortunately, we had only brought one 8-mm rope and a small rack. There is a lot more ridge up there than we thought, and a lot of gullies that all look the same, so when we arrived at one with a rappel sling around a horn at the top, we dropped in. One thousand feet down, we got cliffed out by a 1,500-foot wall and realized we’d have to climb back up. Then a storm blew in. We had to climb some hard mixed pitches to get back to the ridge, all done in a whiteout with spindrift pouring on our heads. We eventually found the salvation of Ham and Eggs, but with only one rope we had to do a lot of downclimbing and install many V- threads to get down.

Mark Synnott, AAC

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