North America, United States, Alaska, Denali National Park and Preserve, Mt. Dickey, Move Your Ass and Your Mind Will Follow

Publication Year: 2009.

Mt. Dickey, Move Your Ass and Your Mind Will Follow. We left for Alaska in April, with the goal of opening the northeast ridge of Mt. Dickey, a line that others, including French mountaineers, had previously attempted. Christophe Moulin had talked of the project for a year, and we couldn’t wait to see what the Ruth Gorge looked like. [This trip was part of a youth alpine climbing mentoring program through the Groupe Excellence Alpinisme of the Federation of French Alpine Clubs; Moulin is one of the trainers—Ed.]

There were eight of us, and we chose two projects. A team of four (François Delas, Titi Gentet, Seb Ratel, and Damien Tomasi) attempted the Roberts-Rowell-Ward route on the southeast buttress of Mt. Dickey. Mathieu Detrie, Sebastien Ibanez, Patrick Pessi, and I attempted the northeast ridge of Dickey. We spent the first day sussing things out before fixing a rope up a short, steep passage and heading back to base camp confident of what lay ahead.

We set out two days later with four days of food and gear, focused on working our way past the main upper headwall, which appeared to be the crux of the route. Our progress was slow, however. We felt heavy, and the snow conditions were tough; we were often on dodgy snow plaques, with protection difficult. The higher we climbed, the steeper and trickier the wall became, and we began having second thoughts. When bad weather arrived during our first bivouac, we realized we had underestimated the scale of the task and headed down, gathering our gear as we went.

Once the other group got back with their mission in the bag [likely the Roberts-Rowell-Ward route’s third ascent] and news of a week’s good weather ahead, we decided to try again. This time we took six days of food and discovered what seemed like an easier starting point farther left on the wall.

The first day passed quickly, because we knew the way, and on the second day we reached the foot of the headwall. We chose the best-defined crack, and after two days of artificial climbing (A3) we made it through. A final pitch of mixed climbing brought us to the top of the headwall the evening of day four. It was midnight as we went to bed, but our spirits were high. The enormous snow mushroom that had been looming over us was now just ahead. As it turned out, the next day brought an unforgettable bivouac on top of the mushroom itself; we knew that the next day we’d summit.

The evening of the sixth day, we hit the summit. We named our route Move Your Ass and Your Mind Will Follow (1,600m, ED, 5+ A3+ M5). The rest of our group watched our triumph through binoculars from base camp, before heading up to meet us with skis. That night we celebrated back at base camp.

Mathieu Maynadier, France