For those of you closely following the discussion over determining the greatest climbers of all time (and there are a lot of you, it turns out), I’ll be posting an updated list of nominees momentarily, then on Monday morning I will post the list of the five greatest climbers of all time.
Today, however, we’re taking a break to take a look at some news from Alaska, including news on Clint Helander’s remarkable season.
I love this time of year. In between the Himalayan and Karakorum seasons, the best news starts coming in from the Alaska Range, St. Elias, and other peaks surrounding the Yukon River Valley and more:
- Mt. Laurens — Graham Zimmerman and Mark Allend made the first ascent of the NE Buttress on Mt. Laurens (10,042ft.), which they rated V A1 AI4 M7, 4,650 ft. It’s along the rarely trampled Southwest Fork of the Lacuna Glacier.
- Citadel — The East Face of the Citadel in the Kichatna Range allowed Ben Erdmann, Jess Roskelley and Kristoffer Szilas to make the first ascent of the Hypa Zypa Couloir (ED: AI5+, M6+, 5.10R, A3, 1100m). They suffered some minor frost bite to their fingers and managed to complete their ascent and descent in 70 hours.
- Broken Tooth — This one is my kind of climbing tale: Alaska native Jay Rowe, completed a 20-year quest, which included 11 attempts, to complete a line up the Broken Tooth along the Coffee Glacier. Rowe finally summited with partner Peter Haeussler. Even after 20 years, Rowe doesn’t consider himself done; according to Alpinist: Rowe intends “to climb routes on each of the major peaks that make up the Mooses Tooth massif. In total, Rowe has climbed five of those summits…” This should be worth following.
Still, the biggest accomplishment comes from someone soon to join the ranks of big Alaskan climbers, like Joe Puryear, Jack Tackle and Bradford Washburn. We’ve talked about him a few times before.
Lee Anderson recently posted this on the TSM Facebook page and I wanted to make sure everyone saw it:
Clint Helander has just completed what can almost be termed a mythic series of tests and accomplishments in the first part of this climbing season in Alaska. [They] include: (1) First ascent of Apocalypse [Peak] with Jason Stuckey, (2) skied out of the Eldridge Glacier to the road with Travis Zuber, Jeff Barnes and Evan, (3) third ascent of Mount Huntington’s Phantom Wall with Kurt Hicks, (4) Moonflower to the summit of Mount Hunter and [(5)] over the West Ridge, Denali with Ryan Johnson.
The use of the word mythic is appopos. It reminds me of the climbing seasons of Colin Haley, the way he stormed through multiple significant challenges.
As evidenced by Clint’s own FB posts, he’s ceaselessly energetic and positive. While he has had his set of failures in the mountains, his attitude has certainly propelled him over each speed bump along the way.
Well done, Clint!
Climbing matters, even though we work nine to five.