First Ascent on Kichatna Spire


Chad Kellogg and Joe Puryear bagged a new route on Kichatna Spire in a single-push climb in mid-July, making only the eighth ascent of the Alaskan peak. The two climbed an arête that splits the south and east faces of the 8,985-foot mountain, starting with seven pitches of climbing up to 5.10+ on the eastern wall. The route seemed to reach a dead-end about 1,000 feet below the summit, but a miraculous pair of horizontal seams allowed 200 feet of sideways free climbing above the south face, followed by an icy chimney (with no ice gear) to reach easier ground leading to the top.

The two descended the route via rappelling and reversing traverses, and reached the glacier after a 25.5-hour round trip. They named the route The Black Crystal Arête (5.10 A2) after the amazing, two-foot-long crystals they discovered on the ridge.

The Black Crystal Arête on Kichatna Spire.Photo courtesy of Joe Puryear.