Trio of Hard New Routes in the Ruth

By Dougald MacDonald ,

The complex line of Season of the Sun on the Southeast Face of Mt. Bradley.Photo courtesy of Tatsuro Yamada.

A Japanese threesome has climbed a trio of hard new routes in the Ruth Gorge of the Alaska Range. Fumitaka Ichimura, Yusuke Sato, and Tatsuro Yamada spent 24 days in the Ruth in April and made five attempts on unclimbed lines, three of them successful.

After failing to climb the West Face of Peak 7400 and the North Face of Mt. Church, the three scratched their way up Season of the Sun (4,600 feet, V WI4R M6R) on the Southeast Face of Mt. Bradley (9,100 feet). After fixing the crux first pitch on April 20, the two climbed the route in 15 hours on April 22 and descended to the far side, returning to their base camp via a long walk over 747 Pass.

The not-complex line of Memorial Gate on the North Face of Mt. Church.Photo courtesy of Tatsuro Yamada.

Ready for revenge on Mt. Church (8,233 feet), the three climbed the central gully on the North Face on April 26. Memorial Gate (3,600 feet, V AI4+R/X) took 24 hours round-trip from base camp.

With one week left in their trip, the team decided to attempt TheElevator Shaft (Chabot-Tackle, 1995) on the North Face of Mt. Johnson (8,460 feet). But then they spotted a potential new line to the right of The Elevator Shaft. On April 30, they fixed four pitches and bivied at the base of the route, then climbed new ground to the West Ridge, where they soon joined The Elevator Shaft, just in time for that route’s crux pitches (A3 5.10R). They fixed these pitches before dark, bivied, and then continued to the top to complete the new route: The Ladder Tube (3,000 feet, V 5.10R A3 WI4+R M5).

The North Face of Mt. Johnson, with the 1995 route The Elevator Shaft and the 2007 route The Ladder Tube indicated.Photo courtesy of Tatsuro Yamada.

“Tired from devouring” new routes, the trio returned to Japan at the beginning of May, already planning a return trip in 2008.

Ichimura had already completed two successful trips to Alaska, climbing a new route on Mt. Huntington and the third ascent of the Denali Diamond (on Mt. McKinley’s Southwest Face) in 2005 and a new route on the North Face of Broken Tooth in 2006, both with Katsutaka Yokoyama. In June 2006, right after leaving Alaska, Ichimura and Yokoyama joined Sato and Yamada to climb four hard new routes on the South Face of Nevado Illimani in Bolivia.

Fumitaka Ichimura leads the AI4 R/X sixth pitch on Mt. Church’s Memorial Gate.Photo courtesy of Tatsuro Yamada.

Dates of Ascents: April-May 2007

Sources: Tatsuro Yamada, The American Alpine Journal,

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Yusuke Sato savors some offwidth mixed climbing on the M6 second pitch of Season of the Sun on Mt. Bradley.Photo courtesy of Tatsuro Yamada.

On top of Mt. Church (from left): Fumitaka Ichimura, Yusuke Sato, and Yamada Tatsuro.Photo courtesy of Tatsuro Yamada.

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