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North America, United States, Alaska, Denali National Park, Peak 11,300', Baja Lime

Peak 11,300', Baja Lime. Dakota Soifer and I, both of Boulder, Colorado, decided to vacation on the West Fork of the Ruth Glacier in May 2001. We finished finals, packed our gear, and flew to the Last Frontier.

On our second day on the glacier we “warmed up” on the Southwest Ridge of Peak 11,300'. Though the summit was capped by wind slab that deterred us from the true summit, we both had fun in incredible weather. The next day was spent eating egg sandwiches with never-ending Baja lime sauce, sunbathing, playing rummy, and eyeing our new obsession. We had stopped in the National Park Service library before leaving Talkeetna to get route information. We weren’t sure what to do in the West Fork and wanted to know what was available. Seeing no routes drawn on the south face of Peak 11,300' on the library map and seeing a nice line, we decided to give it a whirl. The line is just to the right of the obvious pillar in the middle of the south face. It follows mixed ground interspersed with steep snow, traversing slightly eastward to meet the southeast ridge at about three-fourths of the height of the face.

We weren’t off to the best start. On May 15 Dakota caught me on a hip belay at 4 a.m. as I tried to tiptoe across the bergschrund. Skirting the bergschrund to the left using a finger crack brought us to the base of steep snow/névé. At the top of the wide couloir we moved right through four pitches of 70-degree mixed climbing to the crux pitch, a loose 5.9 corner with bad gear placements. This was followed by easier ground, with just a few hard sections and a few pitches traversing on thin, slushy-snow-covered slabs. After about 20 pitches we hit the ridge. To our dismay we found that this side of the summit cone also had windslab protecting it. We decided to let it bar our way and started down the face. Many rappels, a few stuck, and some downclimbing deposited us back on the West Fork of the Ruth Glacier. Our roundtrip time was 19 hours. Pictures we have since seen suggest that the face usually has much more snow.

Ben Hoyt