Monday, July 13, 2009

Mt. Huntington, AK

Rick Vance and I just got back from a great trip to Mt. Huntington, Alaska. This was my fifth trip to the Alaska Range, and my third to Mt. Huntington in particular. Mt. Huntington had become something of a grudge match for me – after 5 individual attempts to climb it’s west face, and being shut down every single time by the notoriously bad weather, I was close to calling it quits and never returning. But there’s something about that pointy summit and pyramid shaped sides that have a gravitational pull on me – I couldn’t get it off of my head and knew I had to try one more time.

Most people climb Mt. Huntington via its popular West Face Couloir (AKA Nettle Quirk), but I’ve always been drawn to the ultra-aesthetic Harvard Route (West Ridge). The climbing is much more difficult, and the line of the route itself is incredible . We wanted to do the first single –push style ascent of this route, and after having been on it a couple of times before I knew it pretty well and figured we had a shot at it.

Bergshrund to Berschrund it took us 27 hours – it was a great day out!

After resting for a few days, we noticed a very stunning and unclimbed line on the huge face between the WF Couloir and the Harvard Route.

In disconcerting weather we left base camp at about 5AM and started skiing to the base.

The second pitch was the crux – M7+ climbing over a roof to WI5 ice.

Rick leading a mixed pitch high on the route.
We intersected the Harvard Route about 2,000 feet above the glacier. We're calling our new line the "Community College Couloir" in a pun on the Harvard boys.

Chris Thomas

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