Tuesday, June 25, 2013


In my last post I highlighted a new route that Jared Vilhauer, Seth Timpano, and I established on Reality Peak. That route was accessed from the West Fork of the Ruth Glacier, but the majority of my two week trip was spent climbing and skiing around Kahiltna Basecamp. It was a blast hanging out and climbing with the like-minded folks there.
When I arrived on the glacier, my partner was already climbing, giving the Moonflower Buttress a strong go. Full of excitement, but partnerless, I rant into Clint Helander and found out he was looking for someone to climb with too. We were both in the mood for something mellow. Clint was still recovering from The Phantom Wall on Huntington and I was looking for a good warm up. It didn't take long to decide on Mt. Francis' Southwest Ridge. Close to camp and enticing to any climber's eye, the Southwest Ridge follows steep snow broken by fun mixed and rock steps. When we mentioned our intentions to friends Pete Tapley and Kyle Rott, they decided to join us. Party ascent!
The next day, at the crack of noon, the four of us started up the ridge in beautiful weather. The good conditions allowed us to simul solo and we had a blast romping up the ridge together. It reminded me of being in Joshua Tree, scrambling with my friends and enjoying the simplicity of unencumbered climbing.
The monkeys raging on Francis
Pete Tapley photo
Pete and Clint take on a 5.7 rock step on the Southwest Ridge of Francis
Pete on Francis' Southwest Ridge
Taking a break with the North Buttress of Mt. Hunter behind me
Pete Tapley photo
Pete and Kyle out for a cruise on Francis
Clint and I closing in on Francis' summit
Pete Tapley photo
After Francis, Jared Vilhauer (who had been on the Moonflower) and I spent a day climbing nearly to the summit of Peak 12,200. Although we didn't quite make the top due to funky weather, moderately spicy cornice work and schrund jumping made for a classic day of Alaskan mountaineering.

 Jared sets out on the West Ridge of Peak 12,200
Schrund jumping on 12,200!
Photo by Jared Vilhauer
Descending 12,200. We used an ice traverse on the north side of the ridge to reverse the section we had overcome with a wild jump.
Photo by Jared Vilhauer
A few days of skiing followed our climbing on Peak 12, 200. Then we headed up the East Fork of the Kahiltna to try a new route that Jared had seen while he was guiding in the area a few years back. We woke up after a very cold bivy, approached the route, and then bailed when the seracs we thought didn't threaten the route seemed to, well, threaten the route. We tried another line that day on East Kahiltna Peak, but bailed when a sluff pushed us around while soloing a couple thousand feet off the glacier. Feeling that it just wasn't our day, we rappelled and then skied back to basecamp, enjoying the nice cold snow and beautiful views.
Jared skis up the East Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier
Retreating from the face we wanted to climb in the East Fork of the Kahiltna
Photo by Jared Vilhauer
Jared and I spent a few more days in basecamp weathering a snow storm and letting things settle out. It was great to hang with friends and ski a few laps in the fresh pow, but when the time felt right we called Talkeetna Air Taxi for our bump to the West Fork of the Ruth. It was time for the main event!
Basecamp life
Photo by Jared Vilhauer
Pete Tapley about to drop into the local ski hill
Scoping, always scoping...
Photo by Jared Vilhauer
The Great One from basecamp

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