American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Denali National Park and Preserve, Bear Tooth, Climbing is Believing

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

Bear Tooth, Climbing Is Believing. Yusuke Sato, Fumitaka Ichimura, and I flew in to the Buckskin Glacier on April 7. Our aim was the east face of the Bear Tooth, on which we had been driven back in 2006. However, we found the face drier than two years ago and abandoned the route. Instead we decided on an obvious corner in the center of the northeast face. Although climbers had attempted the line, we knew it to be still unclimbed.

On April 13 we climbed the east gully and two more pitches on the northeast face before being defeated by sudden snowfall. It continued for three days.

We resumed climbing on April 18, continuing with delicate climbing up thin ice/snow in a steep dihedral (AI5R). The crux in the lower section overhung partially and required some aid (M6+R A1+). We bivouacked on the obvious snowfield.

The next day we ascended the upper portion of the face, also steep, though solid rock and stable ice allowed good progress. The crux in the upper portion was the 10th pitch. We overcame it with delicate hooking and run-out climbing (M7R). Above we encountered many colorful pitches with verglas, corners, and icicles. A big cornice barred the final section. We found our way through its left-hand flank on the 16th pitch and a right-slanting crack on the 17th (5.10a), emerging on the final snow face that brought us to the summit.

After bivouacking below the summit, the next day we descended via the col between the Moose’s Tooth and the Bear Tooth, then down the east gully. Our route, which we christened Climbing Is Believing (1,250m, Alaska Grade 6, ED4 5.10a AI5 M7R A1+), is obvious and requires colorful techniques. I will soon try again for the unfinished adventure, the east face of Bear Tooth.

Katsutaka Yokoyama, Japan (translated by Tsunemichi Ikeda)

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