American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Alaska Range, Thunder Mountain, The Bums Lost Variation, and Dream Sacrifice, Repeat to Summit

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

Thunder Mountain, The Bums Lost variation, and Dream Sacrifice, repeat to summit. On May 15 Roy Leggett, Steve Su, and I began our first climbing trip to Alaska. Roy and I each received a fellowship grant from the AAC. We set our sights on Thunder Mountain and Mt. Huntington, both on the Tokositna glacier. We were greeted in Talkeetna by poor flying conditions and waited four days before flying to base camp. The weather was fickle, but we left the next day to climb Deadbeat (M6 WI5, Cordes-DeCapio, 2001 ). We headed out at 11 p.m. in questionable weather, hoping to get the route done before the weather turned. Steep snow and a few steep ice pitches led to a fork in the couloir, where Deadbeat hung a left (not the big lower fork where Walk of the Schnitzelkings goes right, but a less-distinct branch much farther up). Not knowing this, we climbed the right branch (more straight-up, versus Deadbeat’s trend left) via a continuous ice passage that was consistently steep, mostly WI4. An interesting ice pitch led to a beautiful 75-degree ice slab, followed by a snow ridge/arête. More moderate mixed climbing and steep snow led to the ridge, where we stopped. Our variation, The Bums Lost, added 800' of new, fun climbing. We rapped the route and were back at base camp 24 hours after leaving.

Several days later we headed up Dream Sacrifice (ED2 Scottish 6, Hall-Lewis-Ramsden 1997). The first technical ice pitch was rotted out, and we bypassed it by climbing steep mixed ground to its left. Fortunately, Steve was psyched on the pitch, and Roy and I could breathe sighs of relief. A long section of moderate ice led to a steep ice vein up high. At the base of the ice we found fixed gear from Malcom Daly’s 1999 accident. Steve commented about the fixed gear unaware of the accident. Roy and I figured it was best that he not know about the dramatic rescue and sent him off on lead. We climbed through the ice vein (WI5+ M6) in three pitches and then found easy ground, where we rested and slept for two hours. Enjoyable snow slogging and ridge traversing brought us to the summit cornice of Thunder Mountain in deteriorating conditions. [This is the first ascent of Dream Sacrifice to continue to the summit—Ed.] On the way down, as clouds drifted in, we saw the phenomena of Brocken Specter. We also got fine views of Mts. Hunter, Foraker, and Providence before the weather closed in. In a whiteout we made it to the top of our rappels on The Bums Lost and were back in camp 31 hours after starting.

Andy Johnson, AAC

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