North America, United States, Alaska, Denali National Park, Mt. McKinley, West Buttress, Patience for Purity

Publication Year: 2004.

Mt. McKinley, West Buttress, Patience for Purity. On June 12 and 13 Robert Adams and I climbed a new 3,500' route (Patience for Purity, Alaska Grade IV, 5.9 AI85°) on the western end of the west buttress of Denali. After an eight-day storm, which required much patience, we descended intending to climb a new line on the northwest face of the Buttress (a.k.a. Washburn Wall), but we were thwarted by new snow. We turned to the unclimbed mixed ridge and face rising directly out of the Squirrel Hill area. The route ascends to the left of the Thunder Ridge route and to the right of the 1984 Uppers Peters Glacier Couloir. Initially, at 10 a.m., we went up a low-angle snow ramp from 12,700' to 13,100'. Then we ascended ice as steep as 80° and chimneys before ascending a snow ramp to 85° mixed terrain, where we met the ridge crest proper. The following seven pitches were rock up to 5.9, mixed with low-angle, snow-covered rock. From here we followed a 60° ice gully for one pitch before finding a comfortable two-hour brew site at 7:30 p.m. at 14,600'. We were able to simulclimb the following 1,000' before being forced off a direct line to the top of the buttress by very deep snow. From here we traversed left to the 1984 route, where we encountered ice and mixed ground for two and a half pitches before exiting into the upper snow basin on the top of the buttress at 1:30 a.m. We battled fierce winds and cold temperatures for the following six hours to the top of the fixed lines, where we descended to the 14K camp, arriving at 10 a.m. on the 13th. The purity of the route was maintained by climbing single push over a 26-hour period (15 hours on the route itself).

Brendan Cusick, AAC