American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Alaska Coast Mountains, Mendenhall Towers, Rain, Heavy at Times; Rabbit Ears, Who Needs Cable?

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2002

Mendenhall Towers, Rain, Heavy at Times; Rabbit Ears, Who Needs Cable? Over a 10-day period from June 18 to 27 Ryszard Pawlowski (Poland), Dave Sorric, and I put up a new route on the north face of the Mendenhall Towers (6,980') in the Juneau Icefield. The route follows the prominent arête on the north side of the highest tower for 2,500 vertical feet. This was the third attempt in as many years by Sorric and myself, the previous two having been stifled by bad weather, the usual crux of climbs in southeast Alaska. As in the previous years, once the awaited weather window arrived, Northstar Trekking helicopters flew us from Juneau to the north side of Mendenhall Towers.

After fixing four pitches we spent three days waiting out the weather. We then climbed another two pitches and secured the haulbag at our fourth pitch, as it started to rain again. We retreated to the ground. After we spent two more days in the tent, the weather improved, and we made our way to a prominent saddle about one-third of the way up the arête, where we bivied. After a 6 a.m. start we reached the summit around 9:30 p.m. and finally returned to the bivy site at 6 a.m., 24 hours after leaving. After a short rest we descended to the glacier.

We named the route Rain, Heavy at Times in memory of the dismal forecast we constantly heard on our previous two attempts. We rated it V 5.10d, with snow and ice to 60 degrees. The route involved 24 pitches and 14 rappels. We used a 70-meter rope, which future teams should take into consideration, especially when following our rappel anchors.

The rare good weather also allowed Dave Sorric and I to put up a new line on the north face of Rabbit Ears, west of Mendenhall Towers. The route ascends the north face to the left of the prominent dihedral that was first climbed by John Svenson and others. In keeping with the Rabbit Ears theme, we called the route Who Needs Cable? It involved eight pitches up to 5.10b.

Jacek Maselko, Polanz

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