Pt. 6,000' ofMt. Yukla, Gank’d and Slayed. Often the crux of climbing in Alaska is finding a partner with the same goals and ambitions. Things came together for John Kelley and me in the second week of February, 2007, and we headed out to the northwest face of Mt. Yukla (7,535') with a new grade V route in our sights. We approached from Eagle River’s Icicle Creek and topped out on the 6,000' sub peak that is roughly 0.75 mile northeast of Yukla’s true summit.
An unclimbed left-trending ramp, a narrow chimney (climbed by Kelley and Varney [pp. 193-194, including photo, AAJ2006]) and a right-trending snow-and-ice couloir make up three forks, just to the right from the toe of the Icicle Glacier.
We left our base camp at treeline early in the morning and soloed roughly 700' of third- class terrain up to WI3. We had originally intended to attempt the left-trending ramp, but ultimately decided upon the coveted ice-and-snow couloir. I took the first lead up a WI3 ramp and encountered a rock headwall with a previous party’s rappel anchor. Several moves up (mostly 5.9 ish laybacks), I encountered down sloping rock and poor feet. After struggling for an hour in vain, I lowered, and John gave it a try. He attempted to free it, but decided it would have to be aided. Using pins and a few birdbeaks (one of which popped out on him under bodyweight), he surmounted the obstruction and continued up, on virgin terrain, through a narrow snow chimney. I led the next pitch, which started in the snow chimney, then stepped up and over some WI3-4 steps. Higher up I was left scratching and picking at veggies. I went right at a fork and the rock blanked out, forcing me to tediously down climb 10' and take the left chimney. With only a Spectre hammered into some frozen moss, I manned up and made my way through the rest of the pitch, which went at M6. We then had our first bivy on a small, protected ledge.
John led the next pitch in the morning, up and over a dicey dihedral to a right-trending corner system, then traversed a steep snow slope up to a rock outcrop. With the packs being hauled, I jugged up the ropes. On the way up my tool became dislodged from my harness and dropped off the face. Luckily John had a third tool and we were able to continue. Several pitches of WI3 and steep snow traverses put us at the bottom of the crux ice pitch. John led an intimidating 80' smear with thin protection and long run outs. He made a few impressive moves and then dominated his way through the crux, which went at WI6 due to its thin condition, run out, and a 15' overhanging section under a powder snow mushroom. We traversed over a steep snow slope that would be atrocious in the wrong conditions and dug a snow cave for our second night on the face.
In the morning we packed our soaking wet bags and climbed one more WI3 pitch, to put us on top of our route. We unroped and hiked up and over Pt. 6,000', then descended the Icicle Glacier from the standard Northeast Ridge route.
This was John’s third new route on Yukla within the past year (see AAJ 2006) and my second attempt overall. Our route, Gank’d and Slayed, went at 2,800', V WI6 M6 A2.
Clint Helander, AAC