American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Alaska Coast Mountains, Mt. Boullard, Foster-Ricci

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2006

Mt. Boullard, Foster-Ricci. Mt. Boullard, a relatively benign-looking peak bordering both the Juneau Ice Field and the terminus of the Mendenhall Glacier to the east, rises abruptly from just above sea level to its 4,200' summit. Unusually good ice conditions in January proved just adequate enough for Nick Foster and me to get up a rarely formed line I have been looking at for several years. We started up the left of two promising ice formations on Boullard’s southwest face. We began by simulclimbing for several hundred feet, with ice up to 80°. The steep ice eventually gave way to lower-angle snow, before steepening again. The middle of the route was characterized by brittle, rolling, and ever-thinning 60-80° ice covering compact and poor-quality rock. For lack of a belay, we were forced to simulclimb through the crux section, which, being generally off-vertical save the odd move here and there, was not particularly strenuous, yet insecure and hard to protect. The Final 1,000' to the ridge consisted of perfect 50-70° styrofoam, with gear every so often among the rocks, which we quickly shot up in the setting sun. We climbed the face in five long pitches, taking nine hours, and walked off, taking 15 hours car-to-car. 3,000', IV+ 5.7R/X 85°.

On March 19 Nick Foster, Will Wacker, and I completed the second winter ascent of the Main Tower of the Mendenhall Towers (possibly the second winter ascent of any of the seven towers) by the standard route (IV AI4). The first winter ascent, by John Svenson and company, took place more than 25 years ago. Our ascent took 13 hours round-trip from the south branch of the Mendenhall Glacier.

Stefan Ricci

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