Newcomb approaching the north face with the red line showing their new route.Photo by Stephen Koch
Stephen Koch and Mark Newcomb braved thin ice and a midday storm to snag a new ice line on the North Face of the Grand Teton. On October 5, the two climbed six new pitches, totaling about 1,000 feet of thin ice and mixed climbing. The new route, which is unnamed, started just left of the classic North Face route and ended at the Hossack-McGowan Couloir, which they followed to the East Ridge and eventually reached the summit. The crux was found on the second pitch, where unprotectable ice forced Koch into a soaking-wet, “womb-like feature” behind the ice until he could bust through and pull a roof to easier ground. He spent the next belay wringing out his clothes and pouring water out of his boots. A sudden storm then dumped buckets of graupel, which cascaded down the face in “one of the most spectacular sights I have witnessed in the mountains,” Koch said. When the storm stopped, they continued upward through four more good pitches of ice, including a winding WI 5 pitch that Koch called the nicest ice pitch he has ever done on a mountain route.
Newcomb with ice en route.Photo by Stephen Koch