Mt. Grosvenor, Meltdown, Mt. Church, For Whom the Bell Tolls
Alaska, Alaska Range
Matt Helliker and I landed in the Ruth Gorge on May 6 to unseasonably warm weather and spotted a good unclimbed line on Mt. Grosvenor. Superb thin ice and mixed climbing in the center of the north face, between the Walsh-Westman routes Warriors Way and Once Were Warriors, gave us a great day’s climbing (Meltdown, 1,300m, ED3 VI AI/M6+). We downclimbed the southeast face to the Church-Grosvenor col and continued down the steep glacier back to our skis.
After a rest, on May 15 we climbed the Japanese Couloir to the summit of Mt. Barrill in bad weather, in search of missing climbers. Thankfully, after a grim night out near the summit, they returned safe and well.
We waited a day for good snow before heading off on May 17 to try a new route on the north face of Mt. Church, up a large fault system east of the summit. This 1,150m face gave superb climbing (For Whom the Bell Tolls, 1,150m, ED2 V AI/M6), and there are plenty more unclimbed lines on this face. We downclimbed to the Church-Grosvenor col and back to our skis. The next day the weather forecast was for a week of prolonged storms, so we quickly packed and got a flight out to Talkeetna. We later learned that planes were grounded by weather for the next five days, so we were lucky to get out.
Jon Bracey, U.K.