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North America, United States, Alaska, Hayes Range, Mt. McGinnis, East Face, Cutthroat Couloir

Mt. McGinnis, east face, Cutthroat Couloir. In early March Jed Brown and I skied in to attempt the unclimbed direct east face of McGinnis. The left-hand serac, and constant spew showering down the lower gully of the face, had us choose to repeat Cutthroat Couloir instead. We found thin, overhanging ice (Grade V/VI) and easy mixed in the 3,000' slot. Rockfall, even in the cold of March, was a major issue (wear a titanium sombrero). We descended the corniced northeast ridge after summiting from our only bivy spot (a snow cave at the top of the Cutthroat). It was the second ascent of the classic 1986 Comstock–Dial route and took seven days road-to-road. I strongly recommend only attempting the line in extreme cold, due to rockfall considerations. It was my third summiting of McGinnis, via a different route each time.

Jeff Benowitz