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North America, United States, Alaska, Denali National Park and Preserve, Mini-Moonflower, Bacon and Eggs

Mini-Mini Moonflower, Bacon and Eggs. On the evening of May 17 Eamonn Walsh and I began climbing Denali’s Isis Face. We completed the 7,200' face in just under 48 hours, for the route’s fourth ascent, and descended the South Buttress directly to Kahiltna base camp the next day. While Isis’s technical difficulties were more moderate than we had anticipated, it was nonetheless a serious and committing undertaking with unbeatable positions and scenery.

On May 26 we climbed a fine-looking ice line on a small tower on Mt. Hunter’s Northeast Ridge, rising above the upper southeast fork of the Kahiltna Glacier. This is the next prominent tower on the ridge up- glacier from the Mini Moonflower, and we’d referred to it as the “Mini-Mini Moonflower.” This spring, in the right-center of the tower, an obvious, stunning ice hose poured down, a feature that, due to lack of ice, I had not previously noted during numerous visits over many years.

A difficult bergschrund led to 55° ice. Easy mixed climbing and a pitch of near-vertical perfect ice led to the route’s highlight, 150m of beautiful ice in a shallow corner averaging 70-80°. More excellent ice climbing led to steep snow and the final rock band, where thick ice laced granite runnels and offered easier-than-expected passage. The summit cornice was enormous and intimidating, but we continued up, traversed right, then excavated through and up to the summit.

We later learned that a week earlier, Minnesota climbers Matt Giambrone and Dean Einerson ascended this same route but did not climb the final pitch through the cornice. In subsequent research I have not found any reports of this line having been climbed or attempted. We named the route Bacon and Eggs (III/IV AI4 85°, 9 pitches) as a play on the classic Ham and Eggs, and most of all as homage to the great breakfasts prepared for us by my wife, Lisa, who is the Kahiltna base camp manager. The route is a safe, fun, and highly recommendable day outing. By comparison, the popular North Couloir route of the Mini Moonflower is longer and contains a single, more difficult crux pitch. The climbing on Bacon and Eggs is, in our opinion, more sustained and aesthetic. In thinner conditions, it would make a demanding testpiece.

Mark Westman, Talkeetna, AK, AAC