American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Denali National Park, Broken Tooth, Before the Dawn; Mt. Hunter, Deprivation, Third Ascent

  • Climbs And Expeditions
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  • Publication Year: 2007

Broken Tooth, Before the Dawn; Mt. Hunter, Deprivation, third ascent. In April the Giri-Giri Boys (Fumitaka Ichimura, Tatsuro Yamada, Yuki Satoh, and I) tried various lines around the Buckskin Glacier. Tatsuro and Yuki tried the east side of the Moose’s Tooth (10,355') twice. Although they couldn’t reach the summit, it looked like a good line, a good try. Fumitaka and I tried the east face of the Bear Tooth (10,070') first. But we were totally defeated by various difficulties. For the next two weeks we waited for a period of good weather and good conditions. The north face [perhaps northwest] of the Broken Tooth (9,050') was not as distinguished as its neighbors, but tasteful in its own way. Fumitaka and I targeted a weakness on that wall.

On April 26, after a one-and-a-half hour approach, we went up corn snow toward the first ice runnel and started climbing at 5:30 a.m. The first pitch was the crux: dry-tooling in a mostly good, thin crack (M6). After that, we continued up a left-hand narrow runnel to escape the main ice, which was too exposed, thin, and unstable. The wall’s complexity made it difficult for us to find the correct line, so we linked up various weaknesses, including steep, thin ice and mixed (M5+ WI4+R). At the snow slope, about two-thirds up the wall, two obvious chimney systems appeared to lead to the summit. We chose the right-hand one, and after one ice pitch in this chimney, traversed right to a snow band, where we dug out a bivy ledge.The next day we climbed a loose chimney (5.9) and traversed again to a right-hand ridge (M5). Some troublesome rock, covered with soft snow, led us to a final ice field (70°) and the summit at 1 p.m. It was snowing with poor visibility, so we started our descent. On the way down we found so many places for natural anchors—rock horns and V-threads—that the 19 rappels were relatively easy. We returned to the Buckskin Glacier after 38 hours roundtrip. Our route, Before the Dawn (1,000m, 23 pitches, Alaska Grade 5, 5.9 WI4+ M6), follows obvious snow and ice systems in the center of the north face. The climbing was not too difficult, with relatively stable rock and ice climbing. I suppose this route could someday become a classic.

We then flew to the Kahiltna Glacier and completed Deprivation (6,000', Alaska Grade 6, ED+ 90°, Backes-Twight 1994) on the North Buttress of Mt. Hunter (14,570'). We did it in 72 hours roundtrip, with the West Ridge descent. Once on the wall, the climbing conditions were not as bad as some people said or as I could imagine. Deprivation follows a natural line of weakness, and the whole route was fun.

Katsutaka Yokoyama, Japan

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