Kichatna Spire, North Ridge variation. On June 6 Eddie Phay, Jed Brown, and I had Paul Roderick fly us onto the Shadows Glacier, racked-up and ready to go. Nineteen hours after landing, we were on top of Kichatna Spire. Our route followed the original North Ridge/Hidden Couloir route to a notch. From the notch we shared only a few pitches with the first-ascent line. We exited the notch via 600 feet of direct aid (Al) and iced-up 5.9 off-width climbing. Then we had to do a 60m rap off of a rock spike down into an ice slot. From here the climb was mostly iced-up chimneys (WI4). Having three ice axes and a wall hammer between three climbers complicated our movements. It took nine hours to rappel (the wind stuck our rope good) and downclimb the route. It was the first true alpine ascent of the peak and first one-day ascent to boot. I liken the climbing effort to the regular route on Half Dome, but a tad bit more remote and sans topo. With beta the route could be done quite fast. A recent mag article claimed Kichatna Spire to be the hardest summit in North America to reach. Our ascent begs that question. After our ascent weather kept us tent-bound except for one day, when we attempted a line on the east face of 6,790'. We were turned back by direct aid on extremely rotten rock. We were in the range for 16 days.
Jeff apple Benowitz