New Routes in Arctic Alaska


The four-man team of Justen Sjong, Adam Stack, Tim Kemple, and Max Hanft made a rare visit to the western side of Alaska’s Arrigetch Mountains and came away with two new routes. The Arrigetch is a range of striking granite peaks on the eastern side of Gates of the Arctic National Park. The quartet hiked for three days to reach their basecamp, where they spent two weeks exploring unnamed peaks. On one peak, the team climbed a 1,300-foot wall that looked much like the Diamond on Longs Peak, followed by 700 feet of scrambling. They called the route Rock Jock (5.11+). “We did the route over four days,” Kemple said. “We’d lounge around camp until noon or so and be, like, hmmm, time to go climbing — 24 hours of daylight will do that to you.” Across the valley, Stack and Kemple climbed an obvious knife-edge arête on a 2,000-foot formation they dubbed the Samurai. The two climbed the route at 5.10 in a short day, simulclimbing much of the way. Sjong and Hanft began work on a third route before storms drove the team to begin the 30-plus-mile march back to civilization. “The rock was so featured that once you started climbing up stuff you could go anywhere," Kemple said. "It was more a matter of finding gear rather than holds that determined where the routes would go.”