New Challenges in the Alaska Range

I woke extra early this morning unwillingly. It is, after all, Friday the 13th. My back spasms woke me and I went downstairs so I didn’t bother Edelweiss with any more tossing and turning. Sitting at my laptop (or rather not lying down) usually helps the pain go away.

That’s when I came across a delightful comment from Leland Anderson. This was his announcement: “Clint Helander et al have Crucified Golgotha.”

If it was true, it had to be verified somehow. It was at least believable.

The Easter Story talks of Jesus going to Golgotha — which means place of the skull — to be crucified before rising from the dead. Golgotha  (8,940 ft./2,725 m.) is  also what alpinist David Roberts named one of the most significant challenges in the Revelation Mountains in the Alaska Range, which all the peak names relate to the Bible. In Climbing magazine issue 299, Roberts wrote about his 1967 pioneering expedition to the sub-mountain range of the Alaska Range. There he confessed that he had been keeping the opportunity of Golgotha a secret ever since.

Roberts’ article became a challenge to Clint Helander, Scotty Vincik and Mark Westman. They applied for and won a Mugs Stump Grant Award to help them in their desire to attempt the unclimbed east face.

The claim was verified: According to Clint Helander’s Facebook post on April 12, 2012, he and his two partners attempted the east face but were turned back twice due to spindrift. The weather conditions were reported as being “horrible.” and were estimated to reach 70 miles per hour. The team did much simul-climbing over mixed terrain on an alternate route — not the east face in clear profile, unfortunately, rather “around the southeast face.” I am looking forward to hearing more details about this soon. Perhaps we might get it on Helander’s blog, Higher Dreams.

I share this mainly because I suspect that Golgotha may be a popular new calling for progressive alpinists climbing in Alaska. I think this may be the case in part because of the legend Roberts help create, the affirming information that seems to be coming from Helander and because the east face has yet to be climbed. That could be the second ascent. Could it happen this season? Hard to tell since it is my understanding that getting to the Revelations is especially difficult even by bush plane.

While the Gogotha first ascent is the most significant news to me, I also shared exciting news on the Facebook page news of John Frieh and Doug Shepherd made a new route up the unclimbed northeast face of Mount Dickey (9,545 ft./2,909 m.), also in the Alaska Range, along the Great Gorge of the Ruth Glacier. The line they climbed is a 5,000-foot route they named No Such Things as a Bargain Promise (VI A0 WI5R M6). Check out the route here at Alpinist.

The season in Alaska is certainly underway, and it’s only the middle of April.

Thanks for dropping by again. If you enjoyed this post, please consider following the Suburban Mountaineer on Facebook orTwitter. Happy reading and carpe climb ‘em!

Sources: 1) Clint Helander’s Facebook Page, post dated April 12, 2012; 2) 2) Roberts, David, On the Ridge Between Life and Death, Simon and Schuster, 2005; 3) Alpinist Newswire on Mugs Stump Award; and 4) Alpinist Newswire on Mount Dickey route.


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