Wednesday, June 30, 2004

First Ascent - Goldfinger, The Stump, Ruth Gorge, Alaska Range

After climbing The Cobra Pillar, The Southwest Face of Hut Tower, and the West Pillar of the Eye Tooth, Chris and I were ready to get on a new route. We found that the rock in the basin of the Eye Tooth, Wisdom Tooth, and the Stump was exceptionally good. After two tries we put together the route Goldfinger (IV, 5.11, 12 pitches), which takes a direct line up the left of two major dihedrals splitting the face. The climb was challenging and sustained with splitter cracks and good protection.

For a full account of the climb, please visit my Alaska Climbing

Looking up the route from the base:

Splitter cracks everywhere...

The crux of the route came on the 9th pitch. A very thin finger crack led to a dyno to an off-width, then an airy traverse left to a horizontal roof crack. Chris cruised the pitch onsight!

The Cobra Pillar - first one day - speed ascent, Mt. Barrill, Alaska Range

In mid-June, Chris McNamara and I traveled to the Ruth Gorge in the Alaska Range, where we climbed the 2,700-foot Cobra Pillar on Mt. Barrill (VI, 5.11, C1, 23 pitches). After much work and many tries, the first ascent of this route was made by Jim Donini and Jack Tackle over 6-days in June of 1991. Two subsequent ascent were made in 3 and 2 days. Our goal was to make the 4th ascent and do it in a single-push, using Yosemite-style speed tactics. Leaving the ground at 3 p.m. on June 13 with one 60-meter rope, a double set of cams, one wall hammer/ice pick each, and no crampons, we made the ascent in 15 hours and 10 minutes, summitting the next morning just after 6 a.m.

For a full account of the climb, please visit my Alaska Climbing Blog:

The east face of Mt. Barrill, showing the line of the Cobra Pillar:

Chris leading the 10th pitch, which is a dead horizontal 100-foot right traverse to reach the splitter headwall cracks on the huge shield mid-route.

Chris leading the splitter 5.10 finger crack on pitch 12.