Edited by Graham Zimmerman
A musically enhanced HD video of Mark Allen and Graham Zimmerman's ascent of the Southeast Buttress of Mt. Bradley in the Great Ruth Gorge of the Alaska Range. This is a short look into the 66 hour effort resulting in the new Route Vitalogy, Alaska grade V, M6+ WI5 5.9R A1. The video addresses the first attempt, their trails, and the summit of the new route.
Alaska 2010 - Post #3, Committing to the Unknown from Graham ZImmerman on Vimeo.
Washington Climbers Kick Off Alaska Season
by Erik Lambert
The southeast face of Mt. Bradley (9,104'), Ruth Gorge, Alaska Range, Alaska, where Mark Allen and Graham Zimmerman established Vitalogy (Alaska Grade V: M6+ WI5 5.9 R A1, 4,600') earlier this month. The team climbed for 99 hours camp-to-camp. Read more.....Follow this blog via RSS feed
Mountains of the Ruth Gorge; a few usual suspects and new peaks coming to the light
After receiving 150cm (60”) of new snow in at our base camp in the Ruth Gorge over the last 7 days (April 7th-14th) and the Gri Gri boys (Japan’s premier club of Alpinists), Graham, and I spent several hours over the last few storm days stomping out a glacial run way for Paul Roderick to land his plane and digging out camp.
We chose to end the trip early because the only good fly day in the next several days and the peaks will not have time to shed all the new snow in time for us to climb. So we simply focused on getting out in time.
Building a runway is very time consuming. The size and length required to land the Beaver or the Otter bush planes is a great length when skies are your tools. Several times our works were covered by new snow but all the packing improved the success of the landing and more importantly the take off. A few times we had breaks in the storm fit for a pick-up but it was snowing heavily in Talkeetna thus the airport was shut down. To bide our time in tent city. With the aid of the solar panel and ipod technology we had countless hours of pod-casts, such as Radio Lab, BBC documentaries, Savage Love, Dirtbag Diaries this is what a typical day looks like….
8:00am- Wake up. hit the inside of the tent so the snow slides off outside go back to sleep.
9:30am- Think about waking up- turn on a Radio Lab podcast and indulge for 45min, brush the snow off the solar panel
10:15am- Graham makes coffee and I start digging out camp, make a weather observations
11:30am-Eat, listen to this American Life
12:30pm-Dig out camp, make a weather observation
1:30pm- Retreat to Tent, Read, Sleep, Pod-cast
3:30pm-Start drinking whiskey, talk about climbing
4:00pm-Make hot chocolate with whiskey and continue to talk about how cool it would be to be climbing
4:30pm-Go back to the tent and watch a BBC broadcast
6:00pm-make a huge meal and talk about how cool its going to be when we get to climb after it stops snowing.
7:00pm Weather observation and work on the runway, dig out camp.
8:00pm Watch a movie in the tent talk about how good its going to be when it stops snowing
April 15th We had a wild pick up as Paul Roderick and TAT co-pilot Will tag teamed all the glacial pick-ups and drop-offs. Its been 7-days since a plane has left the airport so the list is long for folks wanting to fly. Will landed the Beaver in the Gorge and over shot the strip because of a strong tail wind and powered the ski plane through a turn and back to our stomped out loading zone slightly breaking a sweat. I have never seen a plane get face shots now I have, it was an amazing sight.
Now back in Talkeetna drinking beer at the Fairview, smelling the plants for first time, de-gearing, and reacquainting our selves with old friends and Talkeetna counting down until we fly back with Seattle.
Graham and I are now going through all of the media and will be putting together some video dispatches, photos, route and trip beta, all go will the older posts for your enjoyment. Thanks for all of your support and your interest in our trip. Until next year!
Alpinist wrote a summery of our climb that is nice and consice having most of the details. Follow this link.
It's been snowing every day here and has left over a meter of snow since we returned to camp on the 7th. So we've been tent-bound and waiting for the weather to clear. Today we received word that forecasts for the gorge are for precipitation to abate a bit Thursday. The forecast after that does not look positive as a storm is approaching from the West with high winds and lots of precipitation. Unless the weather circumstances improve, the snow will encumber our chances of climbing during our remaining days and we will fly out Thursday while the visibility permits it. The good news is that we've run into the Giri-Giri Boys, a group of Japanese climbers who have been pretty accomplished here in the past. We're the only two parties in the Gorge right now, so tonight we're going over to party with them in tent city.
We'll be aiming for link up of SE face and the South face of Mt. Huntington. We're planning on being out for 4-5 days, and just got word that we're going to have some bad weather: Precipitation up to about 10" of snow next 48 hours ( Sun/Mon ) so we're just going to stay here until Tuesday morning and then head out of camp then. We'll give you guys an update on Tuesday and then we'll use our remaining time to tackle the link-up on Huntington. We're super pumped, and we'll talk to you soon.
April 5th at 4pm we summited Mt. Bradley via a new route on the SE buttress. This 4600ft buttress of sustained mixed climbing required twenty-nine pitches, nineteen of which are M5 or WI4 or harder. After sixty-six and a half hours including three on-route bivies, Vitalogy, Alaska grade V, M6+ WI5 5.9R A1 was opened. On the evening of April 2nd we left camp and after regaining our highpoint from the first attempt on March 31st, we establish five new pitches before our midday bivy that day. The 1500ft of climbing included sustained 5.9 rock, an A1 tension traverse, M5 mixed, and a transition from boots to rock shoes and back on lead.
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Graham Zimmerman climbs the mushroom tunnel after the Lightning bolt Courlior at the end of the first 700ft pitch~Photo Mark Allen
We retreated yesterday after about 7 pitches on the SE face of Bradley so we did not continue up and bivy. As we were coming down the route, from our high point our ropes got stuck and we had to resort to some alpine trickery to get our the ropes back and then we had to hang out on the wall for an additional hour in a cave while heat of day threated the stability of some loose snow slopes. Once everything cooled down we could safely walk back to our skis and ski back to camp. So we're back here now... just chilling, our pirate flag is still up. Now, we're going to go right back up onto the wall but we're going to have a different strategy. Instead of leaving at 3am, we're going to leave at 3pm ( Friday ). And then climb through the cold of the day and then through the night and hang out in the heat of the day ( Saturday ) for our bivies. We'll get about 9 hours of climbing and bivy in the sunshine, and then come off the next day. We're going to go for the same route. [ listen to the podcast for full route description ...about 500 ft of steep snow up a ramp, leads to 5.10 offwidth in a cave, pop out of the cave to the crux ] And we figured out how to get through the crux, we needed to bring rock shoes. So we're going to bring rock shoes this time and we think we'll be able to finish
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We're super pumped for this climbing and to be climbing together on such a beautiful peak. Wish us safe climbing and we will post our progression when we return. We've been having a great time, laughing a lot, we've been having beautiful weather, a couple small snow storms, and we're just really psyched to be getting after it. We just can't stop taking pictures this place is super beautiful, super majestic. Graham says love you all and he'll talk to you all when he's down. Apart from that.... ah, we've gotour prayer flag up. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, we are the only people here in the Alaska range, period. There's no one else that's flown in this season, we're totally alone, and this is kind of unheard of and we have this place totally to ourselves, so it's a pretty amazing situtaion. Alright! We'll be back in two days and we'll make our next dispatch then.
March 28th : Dispatch Two
After running around feverishly in Anchorage (getting a flat in Joes Stock’s civic) and getting all of our kit, we have now made it to snowy Talkeetna via the graces of longtime K2 pilot and friend Tony Martin. After meeting with our pilot Paul Roderick of Talkeetna Air Taxi, he has informed us that we will not be able to land in the Private Idaho glacial landing zone below the South Face of Huntington. Private Idaho is the location Jack Tackle and Jay Smith landed last season 09’ when establishing the first assent of the route we intend to target Prizefight -V WI5 M5 R completing a line to the subsidiary summit of the Southeast Face below the South face.
What this means to our expedition is that we will forgo getting dropped with a base camp at the base of Huntington South or East faces as previously planed. Now we are focusing on digging in a camp the Great Ruth Gorge within range of dozens of climbing objective. The conditions and temperatures are good for climbing here right now making potential for getting things done. Paul Roderick will be landing us with 350lbs of food and gear in a large corridor positioned just between Bradley and Dickey. From hear we will travel the strip of the Ruth Glacier and window shop for a route coming up with a strategy for climbing a peak.
We also have been informed that we are the only party in the Alaska Range right now to the parks knowledge. This will change soon enough but for now Graham and I have the Alaska Range to ourselves which is a rare experience.
As for South Face of Huntington there has been little activity there because of the very problem of access. We are in good position to evaluate attempting the 1979 approach, which would entail several kilometers of glacier travel, and a few ice falls, a full scale AK mountaineering multi-day approach. We are hoping to gain more information from the flight into the area. More than anything Graham and I are ready to go climbing enjoy all the highs and lows of climbing here in this majestic place.
Wish us luck and stay tuned.
ALASKA RANGE, RUTH EXPEDITION 2010 INTRO from Mark Allen on Vimeo.
ALASKA RANGE, RUTH EXPEDITION 2010 - POST #1 (SEATTLE PREP) from Mark Allen on Vimeo.
Graham Zimmerman ~ 23 North Cascades, WA YOSAR
Mark is a Full AMGA Aspirant, AMGA Certified Rock, and Ski Mountaineering Guide. Mark has many published first ascents in the North Cascades in the Alpine. His climbing expeditions have taken him to Patagonia Argentina and Chile, Central Range Alaska, New Zealand, China, Nepal, and Antarctica. Mark is a full-time Lead Guide for International Mountain Guides and North Cascades Mountain Guides in Washington and Ski Mountaineering guide operating out of the San Juans Colorado. Mark is becoming a fixture in the industry after 10 years of dedication. This is Mark’s 2nd consecutive personal expedition into the Ruth Gorge after and his 10th AK
The rarely seen East aspect of Huntington. Photo~Mark Allen
Date of Expedition: March 26 - April 20
Expedition Climbers: Mark Allen, Graham Zimmerman
Contact: Climb@markallenalpine.com The sentinel guard to the Lower Ruth Gorge Wake, Johnson, Grossvanor ~Photo Mark Allen
In March, we will embark on a four-week expedition to the Central Alaska Range to establish two new routes on major peaks. Our team plans to climb with style and creativity and is also possessed of a variety of practiced multimedia skills to document and promote the expedition. We therefore seek symbiotic partnerships with outfitters who may value our promotion and climbing skills as well as our commitment to this project; we are deeply motivated towards making this significant contribution to our personal achievements and to Alaskan climbing history. We invite you to read on and consider being a partner in our success.
The Ruth andTokasitna Glaciers in the Central Alaska Range have been in the center of alpinist activity in North America. Within this venue we will pursue mixed alpine objectives while establishing new routes on major peaks. We are dedicating four weeks during prime alpine season to accomplish two target objectives: Routes in the Lower Ruth Gorge and the Southeast Face of Mt Huntington.
Our prime objective: This face has been visited once in 1979 during the pioneer FA of the South Face V AI 4 of Huntington by Jay-Kerr-Thomas-Woolums. Recently Tackle-Smith established a far more technical line to the lower portions of the mountain Prizefight V 5.9R, WI4+/5 M6, 18+ pitches up the Southeast Face to the summit of the South Peak, falling short of the summit, and descended the lower sections of the 1979 South Face route. Southeast Face of the South Peak of Huntington still has serious potential for new routes [as confirmed by Jack Tackle]. At minimum we intend to FA link Prizefight V 5.9R, WI4+/5 M6 Smith-Tackle 2008 with the South Face V AI 4-1979 completing the second ascent of both lines and tagging the summit. We will not exclude any chance for a new independent line.
EAST FACES OF SURROUNDING PEAKS
As the largest face in the Ruth Gorge the 5000ft East face has for a long time been synonymous with hard technical alpinism. During this early season trip we intend to explore new terrain on the East Faces of the Ruth Gorge. A careful watch will be kept for other routes forming on surrounding peaks (Wake, Bradley, ect.), which may be unique for the early season.
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