Two Big First Ascents in Alaska

Two Big First Ascents in Alaska

4/24/12 - Clint Helander has completed another remarkable trip to the Revelations, a group of alpine peaks on the far southwest end of the Alaska Range. Climbing with Ben Trocki, Helander made the first ascent of Golgotha (8,940'), one of the major peaks of the Revelations, and also completed the south ridge of the Angel (9,265'), 45 years after the first attempt.

Helander and Trocki had hoped to climb the steep and beautiful east face of Golgotha, but winds and spindrift shut them down on two attempts. However, rather than returning to base camp after halting their first attempt on the direct line, in late March, the two traversed into an easy couloir on the left side of the face, climbed this, and then continued up moderate mixed terrain on the southeast side to reach the summit in 70 mph gusts.

After digging out their base camp, which had been almost completely buried in the storm while they were climbing, the two turned their attention to the beautiful south ridge of the Angel, a route that David Roberts and five teammates had attempted six time in 1967; Roberts and Matt Hale climbed within 700 feet of the top on their final effort. Greg Collins and Tom Walter made the peak's first ascent in 1985, via the southeast buttress, but the full south ridge had never been completed.

Helander and Trocki left camp at 3:30 a.m. on a beautiful day and quickly climbed the ridge, encountering some tricky mixed climbing on snow-covered slabs. High on the ridge, they simul-climbed through a final rock band to reach the summit. To descend, they rappelled into a couloir on the southwest face and then down-climbed 3,500 feet to the base of the peak. The two hiked over a low pass and then skied back to base camp, 21 hours after leaving.

The two men made another attempt on Golgotha's east face, but spindrift again shut them down, and after climbing a rock pinnacle first done by the Roberts expedition in 1967, they skied out from base camp to return home.

This was Helander's fifth trip to the Revelations. He had previously made a brief attempt on the Angel with the late Seth Holden, his partner on three Revelations expeditions. After Holden was killed in a plane crash, Helander returned in 2011 with Scotty Vincik to complete the first ascent of Mt. Mausolus, a story featured in the October 2011 edition of Climbing.

Dates of ascents: March-April 2012

Source: Clint Helander