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Suluun, New Routes

Last July Andy Sterns of Fairbanks and I made several ascents on a remote and spectacular chunk of granitic gneiss at the Glacial Lake headwaters. We flew in from Nome with Ben Rowe in a Bering Air helicopter to a base camp in the spectacular western cirque of Suluun. First came a 17-hour epic climbing its West Ridge (IV 5.7) to the west summit, lots of ups and downs across several tors, followed by a hideous gully descent. Two days later we returned to bag the true, east summit of the mountain, the Sulu Tor (II 5.8, from the notch at the base), a soaring pinnacle I had faced alone on earlier attempts. Lastly, we climbed an eight-pitch line, the Steely Focus Buttress (III/IV 5.9), up a patch of tolerable rock in the western cirque of the mountain. The normally scree-laden approaches were ameliorated by huge amounts of residual snow.

Ian McRae