Amazing New Route in Alaska's Kichatna Range


Ben Erdmann, Jess Roskelley, and Kristoffer Szilas have climbed a very difficult ice and mixed route on the Citadel (8,250') in Alaska's Kichatna Range. The three men climbed Hypa Zypa Couloir (3,700', VI AI5+ M6+ 5.10R A3) in a 70-hour round-trip from base camp, with two frigid bivouacs. After completing the new line on the east face, they traversed over the summit and descended the north ridge of the peak.

Roskelley leading ice

The new route follows a gully and chimney system to the left of Supa Dupa Couloir, climbed in 2003 by the British team of Stu McAleese, Olly Sanders, and Twid Turner. In fact, the team this year had intended to repeat Supa Dupa, but Turner had mentioned the possibility of the a route to them, and after flying to the base of the mountain on April 4 and a "quick inspection of the route, we were convinced we should go all in," Szilas wrote on his blog.

The trio started the climb at midnight the same day they flew in and spent all day climbing steep snow, ice, and mixed terrain up the steep couloir. They bivouacked on a narrow ledge chopped in 60° ice—too narrow for their tent, which collapsed during the night. The next day they reached the col and then continued up steep rock on the south ridge, then chopped another ice ledge for a sitting bivouac not far from the summit. On day three they climbed over the top and endured a difficult and dangerous descent, downclimbing and rappelling from occasionally suspect anchors.

Ben Erdmann leading one of the crux pitches (5.10R) on the south ridge of the Citadel

Ben Erdmann leading one of the crux pitches (5.10R) on the south ridge of the Citadel. Courtesy of Krstoffer Szilas

The Citadel's east face was first climbed in 1976 by a big-wall route on the east buttress, climbed by the powerful team of David Black, Andy Embick, Mike Graber, and Alan Long. Since then, two more rock routes have been climbed on the east face, including one by McAleese and Turner. In 2008, Zack Smith and Josh Wharton attempted another ice route on the peak's east side but retreated after a fall near the top.

Dates of ascent: April 5-7, 2013

Sources: Kristoffer Szilas, Jess Roskelley, Ben Erdmann, American Alpine Journal


Kristoffer Szilas at the second bivy, near the top of the Citadel. Courtesy of Kristoffer Szilas

Szilas on top

Szilas on the summit. Kichatna Spire is behind. Courtesy of Kristoffer Szilas