North America, United States, Alaska, Denali National Park and Preserve, London Tower, Battle of Britain
London Tower, Battle of Britain. In May, Tristan Gray-Le Coz and I, both of Ouray, Colorado, repeated several Ruth classics, established one new route, and had one new bail. While soloing Freezy Nuts to the summit of London Tower, I noticed a 10' wide runnel of 4-5"-thick ice ascending the left side of the wall about one-third of the way up the couloir. On May 9 we returned, establishing the Battle of Britain (3,200', V WI5 M4 5.9R; topo at the Talkeetna Ranger Station). Vertical ice led to an ice slot, then an interesting mixed shallow corner, and a small roof that I passed on the left. We then trended up and right, encountering wet chimneys devoid of ice, so instead we climbed rock steps, steep hanging snowfields, and a few memorable run-out traversing pitches. We gained the ridge and traversed right to the southeast face, where we intersected my tracks from two days before and followed them to the summit. We descended the Freezy Nuts couloir, which was already equipped with V-threads by previous parties. We returned to our base camp in the Ruth in just under 24 hours. The route earned its name after the pummeling we both received at belays and the chop we barely avoided when a large block came whizzing by from an unseen source.
On May 20 we headed for a steep hanging couloir on the east face of the Rooster Comb. We negotiated unconsolidated Peruvian snow flutings, climbed three excellent mixed pitches, up to M5, and three steep pitches of shoulder-width AI5+ ice to reach the final rock band. We then climbed 600' of snow-covered compact rock and steep snow before bailing. Our goal was the summit but we enjoyed some excellent pitches on our new bail.
Before leaving Talkeetna we checked the ranger station and believe both the route on London Tower and the terrain covered on the Rooster Comb to be new, although such an obvious feature on the latter may have been climbed in fatter conditions, leaving no sign of passage.
James Turner, Ouray, CO, AAC