American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Seward Peninsula, Various Ascents

Alaska, Kigluaik Mountains

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: Ian McRae
  • Climb Year: N/A
  • Publication Year: 2004

In April I climbed the east face of Mt. Osborne (4,714') with Phillip Hofstetter. The climb was 2,500' of moderate 45° snow, ice, and cliff bands. Osborne is the monarch of the Kigluaik Range, 35 miles north of Nome, along the spine of the Seward Peninsula. It is unclear whether the Kigluaik (called the “Sawtooths” by locals) should be classified as large hills or smallish mountains; either way, they offer tors abounding with a hodgepodge of marble, basalt, schist, and granite. We approached via snow-machine up the Grand Central Valley. The summit ridge of Osborne is studded with a fence-like procession of tors (granite formations, typically no more than a pitch high, poking out of an eroded ridge); the highest, heavily rimed in winter, is surmounted via a short pitch of 5.6. 

During various summer attempts in 2002 and 2003, I climbed, solo, all three summits of Tigaraha (3,500'+). Tigaraha is capped with prominent granite tors, between the Sinuk and Windy drainages, almost Arrigetchian in proportion (though no Shot Tower, it’s prominent and notable in quality). I climbed the north tower from an obvious notch in one long rope length of 5.8 Al. The south tower is a class 4 scramble. The main tower has a classic five-pitch friction arête (I found a lone rappel sling low on the route). The notch can be accessed from Windy via 2,000' of burly class 4 scrambling, or from the Sinuk via a loose ice gully. Tigaraha is likely mismarked on the USGS map, which locates it on the wrong side of the Sinuk drainage. I climbed the mountain the map says is Tigaraha, a lumpen choss pile with a scary class 4/5 summit block. I believe that all my climbs were first ascents, with the possible exception of the main tower of Tigaraha (I’m not sure if the party who left the sling continued).

Ian McRae

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