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North America, United States, Alaska, Ruth Gorge, Mt. Barille, Feeling Randy

Mt. Barille, Feeling Randy. On April 22 Sean Easton, Dave Marra, and I flew into the Ruth Gorge with aspirations to climb new routes. We decided to “warm up” on the southeast buttress of Mt. Barille. Two days after landing I started up the first pitch, quickly discovering that we were on our way up an enormous pile of gravel. Sean climbed the second pitch to confirm it, and Dave the third. Had it not been for the arrival of our first storm we would have surely abandoned the route. We pushed on in foul weather, because we were on the only safe line in the Gorge.

We spent 11 nights on the wall, but for 4 days we were stormbound in the portaledge. The route was climbed in 15 pitches, primarily aid climbing. Most of the rock was horrible; in places we aided off pitons placed, snow-picket fashion, at the back of a hole dug with hammers. At one point we removed a 3/8-inch bolt by hand, after hauling on it. At other times we couldn’t even get bolts in, as the rock disintegrated as we pounded them.

We started the route at an obvious notch 200 feet above the ’schrund, then climbed a short offwidth to face climbing that led to the left side of a large roof. Traversing under the roof we passed it at its apex, then entered a left-facing corner. The corner led to a snow patch 1,000 feet up. We then worked left to another chimney/groove system for 300 feet. Then back right onto the headwall and a straight-in crack for 300 feet. Straight up till we reached a small ridge that took us to the summit.

We named the 850-meter new route Feeling Randy, in honor of our pilot from K2 Aviation. Randy saw us returning from the climb and tipped his wings. An hour later he landed in front of our tent and handed us a pizza. We rated the route Rockies 5.9 A2 [a Canadian sandbag rating for hard routes with loose rock—editor]. However, the rating will probably change as our bolts erode out over the next few months.

We attempted a couple of other routes but found similar or worse rock and poor snow and ice conditions. We flew out on May 17.

Conny Amelunxen, Canada