New Routes in the Ruth

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During an Alaskan season in which most climbers have so far come up short, two parties have climbed big new routes in the Ruth Gorge. Eamonn Walsh and Mark Westman climbed the 4,400-foot east face of Mt. Grosvenor in 15 hours on April 14. Their new route, The Warrior’s Way (21 pitches, V M5 R A0), takes an enormous left-leaning corner system with often-runout climbing on compressed snow (“s’nice”) and ice. Walsh led both crux pitches, including a completely unprotected 30-meter slab covered with a half inch of rotten snow-ice. This was the fourth ascent of 8,450-foot Mt. Grosvenor and the two climbers’ third new route on the peak in two years.

Walsh and Westman also made the third ascent of The Escalator on neighboring Mt. Johnson. They then moved to the base of 9,050-foot Broken Tooth. On May 10, they climbed the obvious couloir splitting the east face of this peak in 11 hours, finding a beautiful 600-foot ice hose that led to a complex and difficult exit. The path to the summit was blocked by an enormous rock gendarme, and they decided to rappel the route without going to the top. The unnamed route was graded V AI5+ M6-ish A0, and Westman said it is “a high-quality and recommendable outing.”

Two weeks earlier, on the north face of the same peak, the Japanese Fumitaka Ichimura and Katsutaka Yokoyama took two days to climb a 23-pitch mixed route on the north face of Broken Tooth. The route is called Before the Dawn (V 5.9 M6 AI4+), and the Japanese climbers told Westman the route is “classic.” The same two climbers then made a 36-hour ascent of Deprivation on Mt. Hunter’s north buttress, despite limited ice on the lower part of the route. Above the steep climbing, they carried on to the 14,573-foot summit of Hunter, thus becoming, according to Westman, the first party since 2002 to reach the top of the peak via any of the north buttress climbs.Comment on this story

Photo courtesy of Mark Westman.
Photo courtesy of Mark Westman.

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