American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Denali National Park and Preserve, "Peak 747," Kuriositeten

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2009

“Peak 747,” Kuriositeten. Between April 7 and May 3 Eiliv Ruud and I had a great time in the Ruth Gorge. Though bad ice and long sections of vertical or overhanging snow turned us back from four new route attempts, we climbed several outstanding classics. Our best memory from the trip, however, is from establishing Kuriositeten (Norwegian for “Rarity”; ca 800m, AI5 M3+) on the east face of the mountain between Mt. Bradley (9,100') and Mt. Dickey (9,545'), a.k.a. Peak 747. Our research, including communication with Alaskan climbing luminaries Kelly Cordes and Joe Puryear, revealed no recorded ascents of this line.

I don’t know if the mountain has an official name, but it sits near 747 Pass, so “Peak 747” seems reasonable. We had been calling it “Litlefjellet,” which means “small mountain” in Romsdalen dialect. The mountain is small only compared to its massive neighbors.

We left camp at 3 a.m. on April 28 and started climbing two hours later. The first pitch consisted of 20-30m of vertical snow followed by a huge chockstone. This was interesting and fun, and I would give it a grade of M3+ ST4 (ST = Snow Tunneling). After that, the couloir widened and we simul-climbed steep snow, with sections of ice (AI3-4) for 300-400m. I was then the lucky winner: Just as the sun hit I got the sharp end on the crux pitch, which had 60m of steep, perfect ice through the couloir’s narrowest point. This has to be one of the best ice pitches I have ever climbed. Higher the couloir opened up again, and we then followed the ridge with short mixed steps to the summit, which we reached at 9 a.m.

We descended via the west face and walked through 747 Pass, getting back to camp by 1 p.m. The route was repeated twice in the next two weeks, by Matt Tuttle and Jason Kue and later by a French team. Due to the route’s short approach from the Gorge, its moderate difficulty and the fact that most parties can easily climb it in a day, Kuriositeten has potential to become a classic.

Nils Nielsen, Norway

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