American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Alaska Range, Thunder Mountain, Paikea's Journey, and Mt. Providence, Divine Providence

  • Climbs And Expeditions
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  • Publication Year: 2005

Thunder Mountain, Paikea's Journey, and Mt. Providence, Divine Providence. Jeremy “Jay” Piggott of New Zealand and I based ourselves and friends on the southwest fork of the Tokositna Glacier during the last two weeks of May. We completed alpine-style first ascents on Thunder Mountain and Mt. Providence.

The route on Thunder Mountain’s southeast face ascends a 1,000m couloir that was previously unexplored. It is to the east of all established lines, approached via the left side of the large couloir between Thunder and Providence. [This route is visible in the AAJ 2001, p. 205, photo. It begins above the horizontal sun-shadow line in the broad, glacial couloir on the right side and angles up left through the obvious weakness—Ed.] It sports 600m of 50°-65° snow, capped by 400m of steeper ice and mixed terrain. A corniced col in Thunder’s gendarmed and extremely corniced eastern summit ridge marked the end of the route. The climbing included a beautiful one-meter-wide ice runnel, a great mixed pitch, and a vertical water-ice groove pouring from granite walls. We climbed Paikea’s Journey (IV+ WI5 M5) in 17 hours round trip from base camp, including a four-hour wait at a rappel station for rockfall hazard to decrease.

The line on the western half of Mt. Providence’s 1,200m south face climbs a striking couloir and narrow-clefted rock buttress, via uninterrupted stellar ice and mixed ground, to reach Providence’s corniced summit ridge. The route is to the left of the previous couloir route on Providence’s south face. We found 300m of 40°-60° snow, followed by 900m of continuous ice and mixed terrain, mostly in the WI2-3 range, with several near-vertical ice pitches and a short, well-protected mixed crux in a steep corner. More ice might change this short but difficult mixed crux into a moderate ice pitch. We climbed Divine Providence (V WI4 M6) in 13 hours round trip from base camp.

Samuel Johnson, Alaska

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