Beautiful New Ice in Alaska

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The stunning Milagro de Plata: 1,000 feet of WI6 above Bart Lake, Alaska. Photo courtesy of Ryan Johnson

The stunning Milagro de Plata: 1,000 feet of WI6 above Bart Lake, Alaska. Photo courtesy of Ryan Johnson

The 800-foot Pin-Up Girl (WI5) near Bart Lake. Photo courtesy of Ryan Johnson

The 800-foot Pin-Up Girl (WI5) near Bart Lake. Photo courtesy of Ryan Johnson

3/23/11 - Ryan Johnson and Jason Nelson climbed several big, beautiful new ice routes in an area south of Juneau believed to have been previously unvisited by ice climbers. The two men flew to Bart Lake by helicopter and climbed three new routes in two and a half days.

First up was Large Marge (WI4–), a 700-foot warm-up they climbed in the afternoon after getting dropped off. The next day they climbed a route just to the right, Pin-Up Girl (WI5, 800'), with a short step leading to a sustained tower of yellow ice.

"We had too many objectives and nowhere near enough time," Johnson said. With clear but cold weather continuing, they decided to wait in camp until late morning on the third day so they'd have more sun on their next project: a massive smear above their camp at the back of the lake. "The climb was much larger than anticipated, far steeper, and much more sustained than we ever could have imagined—the longest piece of unstepped ice I've ever seen," Johnson said. After six pitches of very steep ice, they reached the top of Milagro de Plata (WI6, 1,000') just as darkness fell.

"We had a very uneventful rappel in the total blackness and got back to camp in time for a few of shots of tequila," Johnson said. "We woke the next day thinking we were going to go and try a couple of slender two- to three-pitch lines we'd spied, but were too wasted after the last three days of climbing." Johnson said the two "barely scratched the surface" of the Bart Lake area's climbing potential.

Date of Ascents: March 2011

Source: Ryan Johnson