American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Ruth Gorge, Mt. Dickey, Northeast Face Ice

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2004

Mt. Dickey, northeast face ice.

Flying into the Ruth Gorge, I caught sight of an obvious drip of ice on the northeast face of Mt. Dickey. On May 20 Christine Byrch and I left our camp below the Don Sheldon Mountain House in the Ruth Amphitheater.

We skied down to Mt. Dickey and stashed our skis south of a rock rib that separates Barril from the northern end of Dickey’s east face.

Initially we postholed up 1,500' of snow that led to the base of the ice. The drip had formed between serac bands on the upper face. From looking at maps we knew that the route wasn’t threatened from above. The ice was in perfect shape, and we climbed 240m of WI4+ ice. From the top of the ice, Christine and I ascended 300m of snow, interspersed with a little ice, followed by more snow. This took us to the ridge proper.

After brewing up we headed toward the summit, which lay more than 1.5km away. Initially we kept to the ridge, but part way along had to descend to lower slopes, as the cornices were huge. The going became slower, until we finally decided to descend Pittock Pass back to our camp.

Our skis were still at the base of Mt. Barrill. Walking around to retrieve them was out of the question, so on May 22 we climbed over Mt. Barrill and descended the Japanese Couloir, which landed us close to the skis. On our return to camp we discovered that Adam Rosenthal and Jack Jeffries had climbed the route on Dickey the day after us.

On May 25 Christine and I skied around Mt. Dickey, making a side trip to the summit. From the top we realized that we were probably 300m from the summit when we turned back after our earlier climb. Having communicated with several Alaskan veterans, I believe the route on Mt. Dickey to be a first ascent.

Karen McNeill, Canada

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