New Routes in Kichatna Spires


Welshman’s Peak in the Kichatna Range, with Cool Couloir gaining the notch to the right of the summit.

Simon Hitchens, Phil Jefferey, and Mike “Twid” Turner traveled from the U.K. to Alaska’s Kichatna Spires in April and made the first ascents of three long ice gullies. “Most of the main peaks have been climbed in the past, but not many folks have climbed early in the season and made ascents of the many couloirs slotted between the huge granite walls,” said Turner, who is clearly trying to make up for the oversight: This was the British guide’s fifth trip to the Kichatnas and his third to the ice climbs of the Tatina Glacier. 

Hitchens and Turner completed the first and hardest of the climbs: Bish Bash Bosh! (900m, ED Scottish VII E1). Six easy pitches of steep snow led to three pitches up a vertical gully, including two chockstones that required M7 dry tooling. After a three-hour stop in a cave to wait out sun-launched avalanches, they climbed more easy ground to a steep finish on snowy HVS (5.8-5.9 rock). Ending the climb at the top of the gully, they rappelled the route and returned to their camp after a 19-hour day. 

All three men then climbed a new route, Cool Couloir (800m, D Scottish V), to reach what they believe to be an unclimbed summit, which they dubbed Welshman’s Peak. Then, after moving base camp up the glacier, they climbed a 14-pitch route off the glacier between Tatina Spire and Point 7,890. The Whack and Dangle Sculpture (1,000m, D Scottish V) started with six pitches of moderate climbing leading to a narrow, hidden ice gully, “very reminiscent of Point Five Gully on Ben Nevis.” 

Simon Hitchens follows a steep lead on Bish Bash Bosh!

“After 10 days on the glacier, with no gear left to abseil off, [we] decided to come home,” Turner said. 

Also in April, Britons James Mehigan and Oliver Metherell climbed a new route up the snow and ice couloir between Hut Tower and the Werewolf in the Ruth Gorge. The Tower Couloir (500m, ED Scottish VII A1) included a three pitches of “stout Scottish Grade VII,” said Metherell. 

Dates of Ascents: April 2007 

Sources: Twid Turner (www.sheersummits.com), www.ukclimbing.com

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