North America, United States, Alaska, Kichatna Spires, The Citadel, Last Cry of the Butterfly

Publication Year: 2004.

The Citadel, Last Cry of the Butterfly. Marcin Tomaszewski, David Kaszlikowski, and I, supported by the Polish Climbing Association (PZA), arrived in the Kichatnas on April 18, in perfect weather. We landed on the sunny Shadows Glacier, looked around at the surrounding walls, and despite our plan to attempt the unclimbed south face of Kichatna Spire, we headed for The Citadel.

The wall was pointed out to us by the pilot, Paul Roderick, who thought that the wall probably hosted at least one route. This wall is a beauty, slightly smaller than Kichatna Spire, but with a spectacular yellow 2,500' granite prow rising directly from the glacier. Without delay we started our climb and soon discovered traces of a line just right of the prow. Therefore, we committed to the prow proper, and headed for the flawless overhanging granite. For most of the way we were able to find thin to medium-size cracks, with tricky sections of moderate aid (up to A4). We established two hanging portaledge camps on the prow, and set up a third one on what we had thought to be the top of The Citadel. We were running out of supplies, it being the third week of our climb, when we were surprised to learn that the summit was still nowhere in sight.After a few more days and 12 more pitches (mostly free climbing, alpine ridges, and steep ice/snow cols), we reached the summit. We shared our last tea, pondering the most beautiful mountains we have ever seen. On the way down, the weather began deteriorating, with heavy clouds covering the mountains and high winds. We thought we could hear voices above, from the direction of the summit. We thought we must have been hallucinating, until one of us saw a small figure on the snow-swept face. Another party was heading to the top of The Citadel. [Editor’s note: This was the Supa Dupa Couloir team, see report below.] We reached the portaledges and hid before the real storm hit. We waited 40 hours, finished our supplies, and began rappelling to base camp in a continuing storm. Statistics: Last Cry of The Butterfly, east face of The Citadel, 3,700' climbing (VI 5.10+ A4 80° ice). Route climbed (with fixing and rappels included): April 19-May 5.

Chris Belczynski, Torun Climbing Club, Poland