Mt. Balchen, The Handicapped Ramp. The granitic massif of Mt. Balchen (Peak 11,140') sits at the head of the east branch of the Gilliam Glacier. Jed Brown, Seth Adams, and I landed eight miles (via Talk- eetna Air Taxi) down from the peak’s West Buttress (climbed in 2003 by Michael Williams and me, descended by us in 2005). We got a slight break, after 16 days of uncooperative weather, and on May 25 we climbed Balchen’s south ridge in 16 hours camp-to-camp, mostly in a whiteout. Along the way we found enjoyable rock climbing at a moderate grade, on pristine granite, in a truly wilderness setting. We dubbed the route The Handicapped Ramp (700m, 5.4c) due to my non-union- ized tibia and fibula. Jed led the entire route, Seth carried a pack with gear, and I dragged a leg that resembled John Holmes’ limp. It was the peak’s fourth ascent.
Jeff apple Benowitz