Speedy Ascent of Deprivation on Mt. Hunter

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Max Turgeon scoping Mt. Hunter’s 4,000-foot north buttress. Deprivation zig-zags up ice fields and gullies directly over his left shoulder. Photo by Zoe Hart.

Max Turgeon scoping Mt. Hunter’s 4,000-foot north buttress. Deprivation zig-zags up ice fields and gullies directly over his left shoulder. Photo by Zoe Hart.

Max Turgeon leads a key pitch on Deprivation, first climbed in 1994 by Scott Backes and Mark Twight. Photo by Zoe Hart.

Max Turgeon leads a key pitch on Deprivation, first climbed in 1994 by Scott Backes and Mark Twight. Photo by Zoe Hart.

Zoe Hart and Max Turgeon took advantage of unusually good conditions on the north buttress of Mt. Hunter in Alaska and raced up Deprivation in just 23 hours from the bergschrund to the cornice at the top of the 4,000-foot wall.

After three hours of sleep and some food and water, they continued to the summit of 14,570-foot Mt. Hunter. They then downclimbed to the top of the Moonflower Buttress and rappelled the route, aided by V-thread anchors that Turgeon had left less than a week earlier, when he climbed that route with Ben Gilmore and Freddie Wilkinson. Hart and Turgeon were back at Kahiltna base camp just 41 hours after leaving.

Hart, who just became the fourth American woman to be licensed as an international guide by the UIAGM, had tried Deprivation two years earlier with the late Sue Nott, shortly before Nott and Karen McNeill disappeared on Mt. Foraker’s Infinite Spur. The two turned back because of very poor ice conditions. “The ice is mostly good this year, unprotectable in spots but climbable the whole way and really good in most spots,” Hart said. “Max took the harder pitches (he's faster), I suffered with the heavy pack seconding, and I took the easier pitches; we simuclimbed and traversed a ton, so in the end it didn't really matter who was in the lead.” Other than a dropped parka high on the route (and an ensuing string of Quebecois curses from Turgeon) and a stuck rope on the Moonflower (requiring a lead of that route’s steep Shaft pitch), the climb was epic-free.

Home is a hole: The bivy atop the north buttress, before heading to the summit. “The bivy was sweet,” Hart said. “Max even took his harness off—I slept tied in!” Photo by Zoe Hart.

Home is a hole: The bivy atop the north buttress, before heading to the summit. “The bivy was sweet,” Hart said. “Max even took his harness off—I slept tied in!” Photo by Zoe Hart.

Deprivation, a zig-zagging ice line on the right side of the north buttress,was established in 1994 by Scott Backes and Mark Twight, and their fast-and-light style inspired many subsequent single-push new routes in Alaska. The two climbed to the summit of Hunter and descended via the long, convoluted west ridge in a 72-hour round trip. Hart and Turgeon’s climb was “likely the fastest ascent of that route, probably the fourth ascent, the first femme, and for sure [Turgeon was] the first person to climb two routes on the buttress in a week,” Hart said. (Another woman, Pat Deavoll from New Zealand, climbed Deprivation to the top of the north buttress, but not to Hunter's summit, in 2003.) Turgeon also likely set two speed records on the north buttress, as his 52-hour round trip on the Moonflower with Gilmore and Wilkinson is believed to be the fastest yet.

Date of Ascent: May 2008

Source: Zoe Hart, The American Alpine Journal

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