Tuesday 10 April 2012

Alaska psyche

March was pretty quite on the climbing front with just a few nice days out on the grit but lots of running and road biking trying to get the legs working for Alaska.  After been not too sure if the trip would happen for a while flights are booked and I'll ll be heading out with Nick towards the end of May to hopefully have a go at the Slovak Direct.

Since getting into alpine climbing the Slovak Direct up the massive South face of Denali is a route, like many other climbers, I have had on my dream tick list.  As far as I know the it has had five ascents so far and each team has come back raving about the quality of climbing, the situations and the size of it.  To see what its all about check out this great little video that Mark Westman and Jesse Huey made after their 2010 ascent:

A BIG thank you to The North Face for stepping in and making this trip happen.  I'll be using all the new Meru Kit on the trip which has some great key alpine pieces in it and looks like it should perform really well.  No better place to test it all out and get a true honest opinion of it!

With no exciting pics from the last month here are a few from my first trip to Alaska back in 2007 when Jon Bracey and I made the second ascent of the Grison-Tedeschi (French Route) on the Moonflower buttress of Mt Hunter.  We had a great quick hit onto the Kahiltna Glacier then and hopefully we'll get the same good weather and conditions this time.  

The approach to base camp on the Kahiltna Glacier with Mount Hunter
and the Moonflower in the background

Early morning light on Mt Foraker
Heading into the couloir that defines the route and the
 main feature of the Moonflower buttress (photo - Jon Bracey) 

Jon following up the couloir

One of the many amazing ice runnels on the route

Jon leading steep ice on the headwall

Following a hard mixed pitch on the headwall (photo - Jon Bracey)

The final slopes leading to the top of the Moonflower buttress
with the south face of Denali in the background

The nearly 3000m south face of Denali.  The Slovak Direct takes the steep buttresses to the right of the central, Cassin, ridge, originally finishing up the large snowfields most teams now finish up Cassin Ridge

Still a long way to go to the summit of Mount Hunter

Jon stamping out a tent platform for the
final (3rd) night  before descending the West ridge

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