April 7th, 12:30 AM

Mark Allen and Graham Zimmerman on the summit of Mt. Bradley (9,104ft) after the 66hr effort to establish a new route on the SE Buttress Vitalogy (Alaska Grade V: M6+ WI5 5.9 R A1, 4,600')

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.

Graham Zimmerman at stance in on the second snow bench belaying Mark Allen gaining a snow prow on the SE Buttress and safe haven for a bivi. ~Photo Mark Allen

Graham coming into the Prow after a spice 140m unprotected snow wallow. Steep terrain above reminds us of our low position on the route~Photo Mark Allen

The Prow Bivi about 1500ft up the route after pitch 7 of new climbing. North Face of Mt. Wake in the background. This was a 6 hour mid day bivi to wait for snow slopes to refreeze and ice conditions in the coulior to improve.

After the bivi we headed out in the cooler temps of the afternoon as the slopes came into the shade and cast off into the headwall couloir looking for ice~Photo Graham Zimmerman

Photo of the Second Snow Bench, the Prow Bivi (bottom left), and the Ribbon a 1000ft of ice that on the second night took us to the second Bivi on the ridge just left of the couloirs exit. This was the prize of the route and the most memorable climbing. We then had to wait until first light to navigate the complex blocky ridge. This was our reward for climbing the six pitches of ice quickly. ~Photo Mark Allen

 We encountered cooler temps the next afternoon and began a beautiful ice ribbon, 1000ft in length, averaging WI4 with cruxes of M5+ and WI5. This was by far the most enjoyable climbing on the entire route. Then, we continued up a steep, blocky ridge. This was one the first of three storms hit. We climbed in full conditions to the base of a large 1000ft granite tower, the second major crux of the route. The storm broke while we pushed seven pitches of sustained mixed climbing until we were spent. We spent the night on an exposed ledge perch bivy, and then we finished the tower and simul-climbed to the summit on steep exposed snow slopes and spines. When we topped out, there was much rejoycing and we saw two ravens circling us before they joined us on the summit. This was the first sign of widlife we've had the entire trip. We had perfect weather when we summited and it was awesome climbing through the storm. We spent about thirty minutes on the summit and finished our food and found that the normal descent was out this season. So we were forced to rappell into undiscovered country, 1500 ft down the headwall to a glacier and then descend 1000ft of icefall to the valley Backside Glacier and an a safe bivy (under and overhang of rock tucked close to the glacial valley walls while spin drift avalanches poured over) . That's when the second storm hit and it brought twelve to twenty inches of new snow in places, pinning us down for a day without food and little fuel. Then the next afternoon during a clearing we were ready to start wading through seven kilometers of new snow over the entire backside glacier back around 747 pass and then down into the Ruth glacier to gain our camp. A third storm hit, requiring us to navigate in a whiteout, in the dark, to find our camp. We finally got back to camp after 99 hours. It was an extremely challenging endeaver and we're super psyched to have completed the line.. it's a beautiful feature on the peak.

The Tower. This was a long series of cruxes on the route . The original weakness spotted from the glacier was the horizontal snow ramps leading to a couloir right of the tower. The first storm would bring too much spin drift/ sluffs to make that a safe option. This forced us into steeper terrain free from major drainages of snow. We climbed the ridge crest to the base then climbed Tower left (just left of skyline left in this photo) up a system of dihedrals.  After the 5th Tower pitch (route pitch 25) we Bivied a third time by fixing the line and rapping down 200ft to a ledge we had spotted earlier~ Photo Mark Allen

Graham at the Tower Bivi the morning of summit day. The pedestal was just big enough for 90% of the tent but provided a great place to sleep in a flat place under a large roof protecting us from what loomed above. It was the most aesthetic bivi we had on the climb. View of Wakes North Wall were stunning as fresh snow shed of the peaks.~ Photo Mark Allen

Graham busting the last M5 Pitch of the tower on excellent granite. These last two pitches of the 6 Tower pitches were the most fun, they were the lest stressful yet tricky short bouldery cruxes and good. and hooks in frozen blocks. 
~Photo Mark Allen

Graham and Mark Allen Transition to simul-climbing for the summit spine. We would have the leader with the lighter pack one full 70m 1/2 rope to even the loads and fold the other line in half and lead out with 30m of rope still with the advantages of double lines~Photo Mark Allen

Graham Zimmerman about to discover the normal descent off Bradley to be out and force the pair to descent into no-mans-land. Huntington and the approaching storm in the background. Winds will soon pick up later to snow 15-20 inches pinning the pair during the descent without food and very little fuel
~Photo Mark Allen


  1. Wahoo! Well done guys. I hope you aren't going to slack around in basecamp now that you have had a warm up. We are busy ripping everything off your blog to share with the world (well, NZ anyway) :) Glenn

  2. Congrats! You guys are animals, can't wait to see the pics.


  3. Way to go guys. Pushing through the difficulties to make it back safe! Congrats!