French Team Repeats Alaskan Testpiece

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Mt. Dickey’s mile-high eastern escarpment in September 2003. The 1974 Roberts-Rowell-Ward route rises near the left skyline. Photo by Jeff Hollenbaugh.

French Team Repeats Alaskan Testpiece

A quartet of French climbers has repeated the 1974 route on the southeast face of Mt. Dickey in the Alaska Range, likely the third ascent of this mile-high alpine climb. François Delas, Titi Gentet, Seb Ratel, and Damien Tomasi completed the face in four days.

The four climbers are part of a large expedition of young alpinists (20 to 26 years old) from the Groupe Excellence Alpinisme of the Federation of French Alpine Clubs. This two-year program mentors young climbers under the guidance of highly experienced alpinists (this year including the well-known climbers Stéphane Benoist, Christophe Moulin, and Patrick Pessi), and concludes with a high-level expedition. In addition to the Dickey climb, four Frenchwomen on the Alaska expedition have repeated the classic ice routes Ham and Eggs and Shaken, Not Stirred on the south face of the Moose’s Tooth. The team has nearly two more weeks in the range.

The original route on the southeast face of 9,545-foot Mt. Dickey was climbed by David Roberts, Galen Rowell, and Ed Ward over four days in July 1974. After fixing 900 feet at the base of the immense wall, the three men went for the top, which they reached in three days, followed by a day of descent. The climb was not repeated for nearly three decades. In September 2003, Jeff Hollenbaugh and Steve House climbed the face in 31 pitches at 5.9 A2, taking three long days for the round trip. Comparing his climb to the remarkable first ascent, Hollenbaugh said, “We did little to improve upon their style or their time.”

Date of Ascent: Early May 2008

Sources:Ffcam.fr, The American Alpine Journal, Climbing.com

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