Boldest Ascent in Alaska: No. 4

“The Dance of the Woo Li Masters”: 1981 East Face of Mooses Tooth

There are many impressive ascents on Mooses Tooth and almost all of them went up with panache. The sheer walls and Arctic-Alaskan conditions seemed to demand it. However, Mugs Stump and Jim Bridwell showed the way and made this pioneering and dangerous climb influence future Alaskan climbs.

In March 1981, Mugs Stump and Jim Bridwell climbed what, at the time, was considered the last great problem in Alaskan mountaineering: The East Face of the Moose’s Tooth. Ten previous attempts, including one in 1979 by Stump and Bridwell themselves, faced the nearly 5,000-foot wall and were forced to turn back due to conditions, technical set-backs, or fear.

Stump and Bridwell charged the wall in alpine style in extremely cold conditions with minimal food and gear to reach the summit in five days.

This route was not discussed in detail among most of the experts, but John Frieh made a point that I agreed with after a lot of contemplation, to use my own words: Because of the saga to reach the top by so many before them, and the impact it had on the ascents on this mountain and Alaska, this ascent is one of the boldest ascents in Alaskan climbing history for its pioneering qualities, risks, style, and impact.

Be sure to stop by again tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. Eastern U.S. time to learn about the third boldest ascent in Alaska. [To jump to the next post, click here.]

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