American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Alaska Range, The Stump, Goldfinger; Mt. Barrill, Cobra Pillar Speed Ascent

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2005

The Stump, Goldfinger; Mt. Barrill, Cobra Pillar speed ascent. An extended Alaska season gave me the opportunity to climb 14 routes on 13 peaks with four different partners. Chris McNamara and I managed to squeeze out four climbs in the Ruth Gorge, including a speed ascent of the Cobra Pillar (27 pitches, VI 5.1la A2, Donini-Tackle, 1991) on Mt. Barrill and a new route on the Stump formation. The Gorge seemed relatively quiet this year, with few parties enjoying the excellent weather and unseasonably dry rock.

We flew into the Ruth Gorge on the rainy morning of June 13. We thought to warm up on a few shorter climbs, for our ultimate objective, the Cobra Pillar. But the weather improved slightly, and after gazing across at sunlit Mt. Barrill, Chris exclaimed, “I want to climb that— now!” So a few hours after landing, we were at the base of the route. After a frenzy of climbing, 15 hours and 10 minutes later we topped out. We used typical speed tactics: short fixing and the second jugging with a pack. We descended the northwest slopes and circled back around Barrill to our base camp. It was our first climb together: what a way to warm up.

After climbing Hut Tower and the Eye Tooth, we turned our attention to the red and golden walls of the Stump. This “small” 1,800-foot triangular face is a subpeak of the Wisdom Tooth, which sits just south of the Moose’s Tooth. There, on June 25, we climbed a new route we called Goldfinger. The route takes the same start as an attempt by Mugs Stump and Steve Quinlan, beginning in the main dihedral on the left side of the face. After five pitches, the route breaks out right for a direct summit finish. We found a total of 12 pitches of sustained, moderate climbing on excellent granite, with a wild 5.11 roof crux on pitch 9. With easy access and a straightforward descent, it has the makings of a classic.

Joseph Puryear, AAC

This AAJ article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.