American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Mooses Tooth, There's a Moose Loose Aboot This Hoose to North Ridge

Alaska, Denali National Park and Preserve

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: Jon Bracey
  • Climb Year: 2008
  • Publication Year: 2009

Matt Helliker and I climbed a new route on the amazing east face of the Moose’s Tooth, rising from the Buckskin Glacier. There’s a Moose Loose Aboot This Hoose (1,400m, ED 4, M8 A2 AI6) climbs the obvious big fault line, attempted by Christophe Dumarest and Aymeric Clouet in 2006, to the rightof Arctic Rage (VI WI6+R A2, Gilmore-Mahoney, 2004). I was initially inspired to check out the area by Paul Roderick’s spectacular photo of the east face of Moose’s Tooth in Alpinist magazine, issue #4.

Setting off on May 3 in good weather, we found excellent conditions, enabling fast progress up the initial easy ground, before the line narrowed to a series of steeper pitches on snow-ice. By midday the weather had deteriorated, and we suffered a constant bombardment of spindrift for nearly two hours, with Matt almost suffocating at one point. This eventually eased, allowing us to continue.

Above, the gully reared into an overhanging amphitheatre with spooky snow mushrooms hanging all around. Some cunning routefinding by Matt, followed by a hard pitch of mixed and aid climbing, saw me at the lip of a roof. After an eternity psyching up, I eventually committed to the thin ice curtain above and somehow avoided a big lob into space.

The difficulties continued above, with Matt pulling off a very hard, serious lead that thankfully brought us to a small snow patch out left for a bivy. Tired after an 18-hour day, we brewed up for a couple of hours and sat in our sleeping bags for a bit before continuing.

The morning greeted us with okay weather and the crux of the route: a sustained, overhanging pitch up less-than-perfect rock, which Matt dispatched in good style. After three more pitches we gained the upper snow slopes of the north ridge and stashed most of our kit before continuing on. We were stopped ca 100m below the summit by a menacing serac. Happy with our efforts, we started the long descent and made it back to our skis by 1 a.m. after another 18-hour day.

Jon Bracey, U.K.

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