Over the past 10 years or so I've really pulled in and personalized my climbing. My life has become so broad and specialized in other pursuits devoid of climbing, that I have to choose not to expend the energy in those seemingly counter productive directions. Thus I have found that I really don't care all that much to keep track of what others are doing or know in a particular local area. So given this, one might find themselves asking why I go through the trouble to maintain and post this content at all? I will say that historical referencing is one of the main drivers for me to fiddle with this content as I do. As I age I find it to being self serving at first, after that then it's for others. For I want history to know what first ascents partners and I have done in a particular area - there's a double standard eh...
This all stems from the strong sense of Alaska in me, not just for the state but also for that seemingly forgotten golden age of climbing that use to exist here, with those unique and talented players that I originally cut my teeth with. Well before the days of going leashless, facebook, and twitter. I must admit I miss the ice festivals of Valdez and those players of those forgotten yesterdays. It's either they are pursuing other interest as I am or they have passed on. Many of the partners involved in this content fall under these two categories.
I thoroughly enjoy remembering every single climb below, and all the surrounding events that create those kinds of moments. Today I'm many of the thoughts and no thoughts that I had found in those particular moments. I can't imagine who I would have become, if climbing hadn't been there for me.
So a toast - a toast to our moments of yesterday and to those individuals that helped create them. And goes another to the moments we dream now with our close consistent friends. And yet another to the fallen and the walking, please climb safe.
If I have made any mistakes below, which is certainly possible, or have pissed someone off by posting these ascents, then please feel free to email me. Besides, I would love to chat. All the climbs below are 4 star and up and the grades represent the conditions at the time of ascent. Generally all routes are trad protected with a full rack of cams, nuts, couple pins, couple specters, a few ice screws blah blah blah... unless vaguely mentioned otherwise. Here's an explanation of grades and a page update of 2/13/13.
'Red Light District' WI6 M6+ 1997 - Image This was one of my first introductions to full value naturally protected hard alpine mixed climbing. Carl Tobin (a climbing mentor to many) literally scared the hell out of me. I at the belay, hunkered under a backpack, shielding myself from falling rock, belaying off knot stoppers - all the core flavor was in there. Anyhow, start up pitch 1 of 'Hookers Get The Blues' but before engaging that final step that leads into pitch 2, climb right, up, and over a huge frig size block that leads into a mini dihedral of sorts, belay here, there maybe fixed anchors. Pitch 2 follows this dihedral and then steps left and finishes into the top of Hookers, just after passing the 'Caught With A Youngin' crux section. FA: Carol Tobin and Eddie Phay
'Caught With A Youngin' WI6 M8 2000 - Image Complete Hooker's 1st pitch by passing the standard belay block at the end of pitch 1 and finishing on a set of alternative anchors, off to the upper right, look for them. For pitch 2, climb a short rock pillar to a overhanging diagonal crack to an hopefully iced up constriction to finish in. This is one of the finest mixed pitches on Ptarmigan. There's rumors that some have linked the 1st pitch of 'Redlight District' to the crux section of 'Caught With A Youngin' - no obvious difference in difficulty. FA: Carol Tobin and Friends FFA: Josh Sonkiss and Eddie Phay
'Catatonia' M7 X 1998 - Image The crux is the 2nd pitch. I'm mostly including this one to motivate someone to put bolts in it. There is no protection from the dihedral all the way to the left angling ramp. A fall there has a probability of death or at least massive bodily damage. I had placed a pin just inside the dihedral before launching out right onto the face, I thought there would be gear in a block half way out. I found none when I arrived there, and as a bonus the block was loose and threatening to peel me off the wall. So I pushed on until the salvation of the left angling ramp, because the moves going back seemed to risky. The route has phenomenal thin face movement, at least hard 5.11 face moves. But the protection is shit. Pitch 3 is a low angled ramp to a tied off block used for the rappel. This is certainly one of the riskiest climbs I've done. FA: Eddie Phay and Josh Sonkiss
'Desperate And Dateless' M8+ 2009 - This route is just up a ways from 'Catatonia'. Here's what it looks like with snow Image. Partners and I had been trying to pull the roof on the 2nd pitch for some time, that's where the over all grade is. Everything up to this roof is solid M6 and M7. Pitch 1 is M6 at two crux sections, that come at the end of the pitch. The 2nd pitch climbs the big M7 dihedral that then moves right into a roof (pass bail out anchor system) that then finishes with hard pulls in a number five camalot sized crack - bring a number 5! I seemed to have gotten lucky this particular season, since I redpointed it first go and in perhaps some of the more serious conditions I've found it in before. Before venturing out onto this route, make sure it's cold enough for the turf to freeze, and again bring a number 5 camalot. Here's pictures at the time of ascent, they give some better perspective Image Image Image. FA: Eddie Phay and Josh Sonkiss FFA: Eddie Phay and Amos Swanson
'Tinder' M7 R 2014 - This route shares the first pitch of 'Desperate And Dateless'. But instead of ending the first pitch in the 'Desperate And Dateless' big dihedral, break right just before and belay just under the obvious mossed up corner system that leads into the surprisingly difficult roof. This second pitch is where the grade is, the roof goes at M7. The following image shows where one is to break right Image. The steep and mossed up seam/corner that finishes up the rest of the second pitch, just after pulling the roof, is where one must not fall and warrants a R rating. The seam has a few patches of moss that take a couple of suspect specters, but getting to these patches of moss require running things out for about 20 feet or so, and the specters are nothing to write home about. Gear eventually turns good with a large cam about 30 feet or so above the roof pull. There's a finishing step crux too, that requires some bare handed bouldering power to pass; it's well protected. Image, Image FA: Eddie Phay and John Giraldo
'Mixed Inhibitions' P1 M7, P2 M7, P3 M6, P4 M8/9 2000 - This little gem of a trade route is great for a short day out or a full on technical alpine push to the summit of Ptarmigan. It's my opinion that this route is one of the finest technical alpine climbs in the Chugach, if taken past "Carl's Chockstone". It's a must do for every hardman. The first 2 pitches were completed by Josh Sonkiss and I in 2000. Then Carl Tobin and friends added the 3rd and 4th pitches, 4th being "Carl's Chockstone". To continue to the summit see 'The Frombe Linkup' below. Pitch 1 was originally climbed to an alternate start to the 2nd pitch by going right after the initial step from the couloir. These days, the boilerplate standard is to traverse left into a thin and challenging crack/dihedral dubbed "Scotty's Corner" that has a initiating fixed blade. Small, tricky, but solid wired protection protects the remainder of this short heady crux. Pitch 2 is brutally overhanging off the start, hard pulls and tricky climbing turns a corner into a narrow chute that eventually leads to anchors and the start of the 3rd pitch. The 3rd pitch is where the chockstone roof becomes visible. It's moderate M6 climbing up to the anchors, which sit just below and right of the chockstone. Now the chockstone is a real tricky bastard and this is where the overall route's grade increases a bit to hard M8/9. Look for tiny tiny edges and funky tool torques and hard pulls to summit the chockstone. I myself, being one of the first two ascensionists ends 'Mixed Inhibitions' here, after these 4 brilliant non-deviating direct pitches, as was Josh's and my vision from the first day. With that said, there's another finish that ends left, by deviating on one of the 3rd pitch 'The 3 Headed Bitch' area dihedrals, I'll mention that here in a bit. Continuing past the finishing anchors of the chockstone pitch will immediately take you into a very wide loose chimney of sorts, with limited protection, so tred very very lightly and you'll make it to a ledge system, that if you go right will take you to the ski tracks and if you go left will take you to the route 'Blood Bath', rumored to be M9. And then of course there's the deviant 4th pitch finish to 'Mixed Inhibitions', that I'm not sure about and must start some where on this ledge system above the chockstone; ask John Kelley. Now about the anchor station at the top of the 2nd pitch. These anchors also serve 3 other single pitch routes, which make up the area called 'The 3 Headed Bitch'. From left to right - Image. You will see a obvious thin challenging crack M8 and two M6 dihedrals. One of these dihedrals belongs to the deviant left finish of 'Mixed Inhibitions'; again, ask John Kelley. The thin challenging crack is in the video "A Spring Day On Ptarmigan Peak, Alaska". The right most dihedral is in the video "Alpine Cragging At Ptarmigan Peak, Alaska". Here's also a pretty picture of the route and the 3rd pitch 'The 3 Headed Bitch' area options Image. Go explore, I've written enough. FA: Combined efforts of Josh Sonkiss, Eddie Phay, Carl Tobin, and the friends there of.
'The Frombe Linkup' III M7 C1 (or M8/9) 1400' (roped climbing) 2011 - 17hr door to door - M7, M7, M6, M7 C1 (M8/9), 2 traverse pitches, M5, M6 (ice), M4/5, M4/5, upper snow field to West summit. Carl's Chockstone Image Image Paragliding/climbing video with some route footage
This linkup into 'Left Ski Track' is a real chore to complete. Here's the deal, climb the 4 direct pitches of 'Mixed Inhibitions', but instead of ending pitch 4 proper, just above "Carl Tobin's Chockstone", keep climbing past the belay and delicately, may I say very delicately climb through the loose wide chimney, which ends on a slab. Now from the slab belay, start traversing the main snow ledge West, on over to 'Left Ski Track' proper. Then just head to the West summit via the 'Left Ski Track'. Take the summit ridge all the way East to the East summit. After the East summit, head down the 'S' couloir to the start of 'Mixed Inhibitions' and down to the Powerline Pass. Amos Swanson and I had tried this linkup two times prior, failing because of a late starts and poor fueling.
Some advice - start early, you want to be on the first pitch of 'Mixed Inhibitions' just as your able to see without a head lamp. We completed the project in early March, with a Flattop parking lot departure of 3:45 AM. Strive to be at the top of pitch 4 before or at noon. The first 4 pitches are the really technical ones, partners need to be competent at M7 or harder. Take light packs on route with you, this is for food, water, and belay jackets. Take a alpine aider with you, for "Carl's Chockstone". The chockstone is a real treat, and a hard on-sight. Aid through it if you fall on the on-sight and leave the aider for the follower. The objective is to complete the route, not redpoint the pitch, come back later to do it. Or shit if ya have the time, go for it, but we wisely chose to conserve our energy. Take some stubby ice screws for the 'Left Ski track', we left ours at home and it created one hell of an experience. Don't underestimate the ice pitches of the 'Left Ski Track'. And be ready for the down climbing of the 'S' couloir, you need to survive to enjoy the grovel that is the return approach on Powerline Pass in spring, when the skiing is probably the worst you'll experience all winter, seriously shitty, I flipping hated it! Amos walked faster than I could ski, damn angled ice drifts. Hey, have fun for this linkup was so much fun to finally complete, a real jewel of a idea. We'll see more of these as the years continue back there on Ptarmigan - Anchorage's Ben Nevis. A true testament of the unique alpine adventures of Ptarmigan and the ideas waiting to come to fruition.
FA: Eddie Phay and Amos Swanson with the combined efforts of Carl Tobin and friends and Eddie Phay and friends.
'Roctober' M5 2011 - This route is on a wall that is further South East as one heads up to the pass, after passing Ptarmigan Peak. The following pictures show the 1 or 2 pitch alpine cragging potential this wall can provide in the future Image Image. FA: Eddie Phay, John Giraldo, and Jeff
'Freezn For No Reason' P1 M5, P2 M7 2012 - This route tackles a major mossed up trending right corner feature for pitch 1. Then pitch 2 starts off with a tricky roof, then diagonals left on fun pick torques and mossed up face climbing that leads to another corner system with a well deserved single bolt. Continuing on with this corner system leads to the anchors under a very scary loose roof. The route is solid overall but there does exist loose death blocks on pitch 2, that if caressed the wrong way may end up dislodging and squashing you and your partner. Tred lightly in those areas and you'll be fine. The anchors are bolted. FA: Eddie Phay and John Giraldo
'Karmarang' M4 WI2 2012 - This line isn't on the Roctober wall formation. As you make your way across the lake that leads to the Roctober wall formation, keep your eyes open for a thin smear up high and right on the flanks of Ptarmigan. The route starts in an iced up weakness left of the big chockstone roof. Later in the year snow covers the ice, so pick a day early in the season. The crux pitches are the first and last pitches. There's roughly 4 pitches total. After the first pitch just keep heading left on WI2 ice until you run into a hidden pillar with a dry tooling exit on right. FA: Eddie Phay and John Giraldo
'A Great Training Climb' M4 II/III 4K' 2012 - Holy shit do I have a Chugach alpine classic for you. First take a peek at this site and learn a little route history on Mt. Williwaw. Pay attention to the West Buttress, the North West ridge, and the South Ridge couloir. Now just look at that mountain, incredible huh? So here's what John Giraldo and I did. We left the Glen Alps parking lot at 3:30 AM on a cold mid January morning and skied around O'Malley's ballfiled and joined up with the Williwaw Lakes trail, which had a stout January South East breeze. We stashed our skis just under Mt. Williwaw's West Buttress, on the other side of one of the lakes there, where we then brewed up and stomped around until it was light enough to climb. We then made our way up the West buttress by the easiest route possible, never climbing harder than 5.8 or so. The buttress is worth about 4 or 5 pitches total. We then navigated our way up the wickedly exposed NW ridge to the summit of the mountain. From the summit we dropped down and descended the South ridge couloir. Once in that valley we made our way back to the lake where we stashed our skis. Exhausted, we brewed and fueled up and groveled our way back to the Glen Alps parking lot via the Williwaw Lakes trail. All said and done it was 17 miles with 3.7 of that on the thigh shredding mountain itself, 16.5 hours, and 4,360 feet of elevation gain. Some notes - During the winter, the exposure and the technical difficulties are very exciting on the ridge, not to be taken lightly. The wind from the South East can slow things down considerably if not taken into consideration. The sun beats down on the initial section of the ridge mid day, it's a great catalyst to the summit, you'll need it. I'm not claiming this as a first or anything like that. But I am saying that this is one awesome mind numbing grovel fest. That as a reward has fantastic exposure under fun technical climbing, challenging route finding, top of the world views, and a nice big gold star for proper physical maintenance and conditioning. It's only proper to drink a BigSky Ale once at home! Now get to it!Image 1 Image 2 Image 3 Image 4 Image 5 Image 6 Image 7 Image 8 Image 9 Image 10 Image 11 Image 12 Image 13 Image 14 Image 15 Image 16 Image 17 Image 18 Image 19 Image 20 Image 21 Image 22 Image 23 Image 24
Goats Head Soup Area (See SCAR guidebook) M5-M8 1997 - Dry tool all the sport routes here, they're a great experience Image Image.
Morning Star Gully (See SCAR guidebook) 'Gym Certified' M7/8 1997 - Great sport route done with tools. There maybe a smear of ice on it.
PFM Wall AKA Weeping Wall 'Make me a Witness' M5/6 WI4+ 1998 - Climb 1/2 of SlimJim then step onto a mossy ledge on left. From here climb a couple of bolts heading right that lead back onto Slim Jim proper. FA: Eddie Phay and friends
PFM Wall AKA Weeping Wall (See SCAR guidebook) 'Tapping The Temple' M7 1999 - One heck of a fun drytooling sport route, the crux is at the anchors. Be a man and finish with bare hands Image Image.
PFM Wall AKA Weeping Wall 'Soul Creation' M8/9 R/X 2000 - Left of the sport route 'Cellulite Nightmare' (See SCAR guidebook). Look for bolts about 20 feet up. It requires ice and cams. It has one heck of a serious ran out topout. There's also a left variation with a single bolt that leads to another hanging dagger. The bolt can be seen in the following photo, look left of the climber about 15'. FA: Eddie Phay and Dan Krueger Image Image UPDATE: the route has collapsed, but it's again a new objective...
Sky Pilot Area (See SCAR guidebook) 'Herbalistic Vision' M8/9 1999 - There might be ice on it Image, go to the top! 'The Catalyst' 2nd down from here, climbs directly up to the left most red line marked pillar there in the picture. FA: Eddie Phay and Friends
Sky Pilot Area (See SCAR guidebook) 'Herbal Precision' M8 1999 - Drytool 1/2 of Herbalistic Vision, then take pockets off left and into a dihedral. There might be ice on it. FA: Eddie Phay and Friends
Sky Pilot Area (See SCAR guidebook) 'The Catalyst' M9 2010 - Drytool the left most line of bolts that head into a open book, just left of the previous line. It's best to wait till there's a 5-10' pillar of ice dangling from the open book, as this aids in the last 2 or 3 technical moves to the anchor Image. Expect big reaches to tiny sideways pulling hooks, there's also some pockets and standard horizontal micro hooks. Every move seemed desperate and just out of reach, requiring a little umph in reaching power. FA: Eddie Phay and Friends
Mesquito Ledge (See SCAR guidebook) '8 mm Pig' M8 2001 - You'll know it's in if there's some hanging yellow ice far right of the sport route 'You Snooze You Loose'. FA: Eddie Phay and Josh Sonkiss
'Perpetual Motion' East Face of PK 3596 - V/VI 5.11 C2 3k' (14 pitches) 1k' (30 degree snow to summit) 1997 - Image Image Image Image It was back in 1997 that Jay Rowe, Dan Krieger, and I made our way back to Deep Water Bay in Prince William Sound via float plane to climb the remote granite walls on Peak 3596. We had incredible blue bird weather for a week straight, which is very rare in that area of the world. It only drizzled on our last couple days there, while waiting for our pickup. Which due to overcast, couldn't land for a day or two. So we spent our time bouldering the surrounding beach area, putting up some real stout problems. Some being very high and challenging Image Image Image Image.
The climbing on the wall was fantastic, the first 4 or 5 pitches has some really good granite. There's a finger crack on pitch 3 or so that's near mythical in quality and length. Our first day we made it up about 4 or 5 pitches, then fixed and worked our way down via a ledge system. We spent the next day sleeping under a boulder on a snowfield, resting and avoiding the sun the best we could. Naturally we bouldered the hell out of that one too Image.
The next climbing day we made it to our previous high point and continued to a big grassy ledge, where we slept that night in the fresh open air of Prince William Sound Image. A stripper named Freedom danced through my head. We finished the remaining pitches to the summit the next day. Jay Rowe was an awesome team captain, he some how managed us young guns up that granite beast. We spent a large amount of our time laughing our assess off. To this day I still make references to kitten's paws being sore. Anyhow, if you find yourself there with good weather, know there's a line to the summit and a few lines off left of ours put up by Jay Rowe and another I think by Andy Hoyte. As far as I know, the three of us were the first to reach the summit of this peak Image Image Image Image Image. FA: Jay Rowe, Dan Krueger, and Eddie Phay
Turn right at the end of the approach to the beach (see page 15 in Fat City And Urban Ice guidebook). Climb your heart out on the hanging pillars and roofs Image Image. None are lengthy WI6, but some are technical WI6 and possibly harder. Just loads of good safe fun! While your in the area, look for the seldom formed test piece 'The Tentacle' WI5+. Photos are from 1996 or so Image Image Image.
'Liquid Way' M6/7 2001 - This is one super rad route in Eklutna Canyon. It's directly across from Ripple. See the picture and follow the line Image. There's a wall to the right and up a little from the start of Liquid Way that is shown here Image. This line is M5 or so and well worth the effort. To finish, traverse left and into a runnel that ends at the same tree as Liquid Way. FA: Eddie Phay, Josh Sonkiss, and GeorgeAnne Sprinkle
'Eklutna Canyon Crack' M7 2002 - Ya know that short crack on the left just past ripple? This is it. Protect the topout! FA: Josh Sonkiss and Eddie Phay (maybe not, who knows, who really cares...)
'Eklutna Man add on' WI6 2000 - This route climbed a tiny tiny pencil pillar on the far right side of the big roof. After the pillar I traversed left on what can be best described as alpine ice bubbles, just enough to climb and protect. One of the coolest climbs I've done back there. It adds two pitches to Eklutna Man, the last pitch is like WI 5 or so. FA: Eddie Phay and Harry Hunt
'Miter Might Free Solo' WI5 2000 - Line of strength taken, despite what a certain person wants to think. This is another event where I saw just how much vertical air under my ass I can accept without a rope attached. AFAIK, this maybe the first solo ascent.
'Wild Earp' WI5/6 2000 - This route is up the left fork of hunter creek, in the amptheater there. It's just right of the WI 4/5 that Harry Hunt established the same season. Wild Earp climbs pillars and a big overlapping roof. At least that's how it formed that season Image... FA: Eddie Phay and Jonie Earp
This area is best described by http://www.alaskaiceclimbing.com/ and The American Alpine Journal 2001. Use those resources for access and such. The following pictures are from 1996. Basically the story goes, Steve Garvey calls me early one Saturday morning in 1996 and asks if I want to go ice climbing. Naturally I say "hell ya!". Next thing I knew I was on the Knik river skiing under a haze, behind Martin's snowmachine, on my way to the Knik Gorge. Once there Garvey went on a crazy first ascent storm with Martin and I hanging on the best we could. We had climbed 4 first ascents by the end of the day. I'll never forget the ride out in Garv's van, he looked at me and said "you had a good day chump". I grinned, I knew I had gotten away with something. FA: Steve Garvey, Martin Martinez, and Eddie Phay
The following ice pictures are marked up the best I remember, it was long ago. Please let me know if I've made mistakes. Image Image Image.
'Connect The Choss' M5/6 2012 - This is the right most route that sits in an alcove roughly a half mile before the parking lot for the Hillside Pillars. It features 4 bolts to a hanging smear. Bring stubby ice screws and specters so as to protect yourself as you make your way to the two bolt anchor. A great treat off the side of the road! FA: Eddie Phay and Rick Roth
'Tinker Stinker' M7 2012 - This is the left most route that sits in an alcove roughly a half mile before the parking lot for the Hillside Pillars. Diagonal right, starting on two hanging pillars that lead to 2 pumpy bolts above tricky feet that protect a final hanging dagger. There is a stump to tie off at the top of the final dagger. Continue on up right protecting with specters to find the two bolt anchor that these two climbs share. A great treat off the side of the road! Image. FA: Eddie Phay and Rick Roth
'A Barrel Full Of Monkeys' M5 WI6 2013 - This line is in the first major alcove on right just before Rag Time and Rhythm And Blues. Look for the obvious mineral colored hanging pillars spilling over a major roof up high in an alcove. It can be done in one full pitch or split up into two pitches. The lower half takes specters, small screws, and medium cams. The meat of the route just takes draws and runners for 5 bolts. I'm not sure if the ice has actually ever touched down and formed a full ice climbing route. It's kind of a stretch to imagine something as cool as that actually happening - anything is possible though. Naturally more ice the better... Less the harder... Also the chute used for access to that alcove is a big catch all from the entire alcove. I wouldn't want to be there when things get warm, so please pick your days and it's a good idea to do the route in 2 pitches (anchors left of ledge system under big roof) if the pillars are the sizes that can squash elephants and semis - you get the point... It's kind of ugly in there Image Image Image. FA: Eddie Phay, John Giraldo, and John Schleder
'Noname Yet' WI3 2013 - Climbed a possibly new route on the right hand side shortly after China Wear, located fairly high up above a boulder slide. Looks pretty cool from the river, ended up only being about 25 meters though. The meat of the route had a really airy wind bell Image. FA: John Giraldo and Eddie Phay
'Janitor Crack' M6 2013 - This crack is behind a curtain on a formation on right just before one enters the Robo Pick amphitheater. It's hard to explain exactly where this is but the formation is very obvious as you make your way to Robo Pick and if you look at this picture. The route basically take a hand crack with loose threatening blocks to a hanging curtain. There's really tiny feet to work with. Other than the loose blocks, this is a rad line. FA: Amos Swanson and Eddie Phay
'Secret Garden' M8 1999 - This is the bolted/trad line behind the hanging pillar of Falstaff. Best mid season, when the pillar isn't too fat; so it doesn't rob you of the fine drytooling that's to be found in the garden. Here's a couple pictures of it Image Image Image. FA: Eddie Phay and Josh Sonkiss
'The Antiboarder' M8+ 2001 - This very very awesome technical route is across the river on the right side as one enters Keystone canyon, heading towards Valdez. Here's a picture of it Image, the line is the red line in the photo. The line I'm climbing in the photo is a great WI5 'Wash It Away' that Brian Teale put up the same season. FA: Brian Teale and Friends FFA: Eddie Phay
'Sans Ame' M8 WI6 2001 - This is the second ascent and damn honored to have climbed it with two of the coolest partners ever. It certainly stands out as one of the headiest events in this life. Keystone Canyon roadway is a magical place at 3AM after such an experience. Something to remember about this route is that, if I remember right, the first ascent was done in 1987. That's mixed grade 8 in the 1980s! Be damn honored to have this feather in your hat, as many many have tried to capture it. This Valdez route oozes with history. Image Image Image Image. FA: Steve Garvey and Jim Sweeney PIC: Brian Teale, Josh Sonkiss, and Eddie Phay
'Glass Onion Indirect' M7 WI6 1999 - This is a second ascent. AFAIK the first ascent was done by Brian Teale and the late Sue Knott (rest in peace). The 1st pitch is a short and mossy dihedral that diagonals left before pulling a small roof that ends the 1st pitch Image. The 2nd pitch follows a mossy and iced up ledge system with small steps to climb around. The 3rd pitch climbs the hanging dagger. I remember the belay here being questionable and my climbing partner freaking out about working the small little dagger - "Slack for god's sake - Joey". Bah, lol, who needs a rope... The remaining pitches are the typical glass onion pitches. Image. FA: Brian Teale and Sue Knott PIC: Josh Sonkiss and Eddie Phay
Nabesna The Hematoma Amphitheater
UPDATE: The Hematoma area hasn't formed up in awhile. What was once a major flow seems to now stop half way down the mountain, forming a seemingly large out of reach pillar. It calls but it's voice is dulled by the worst limestone imaginable.
'Northern Lights' WI5/6 2000 - Completely independent line on the left side of the amptheater. Nabesna has incredible northern lights. FA: Eddie Phay and Joel Schihl (rest in peace brother)
'Hematomocaribouma' WI6 1998 - Completely independent line left of 'Middle Pillar Express'. The name of the route comes from me running into a caribou with my vehicle the previous night, on the way to Nabesna. That single financial event literally put my life on another course of causality. That was a magic caribou. FA: Eddie Phay and friends
'Roofer Madness' WI7 R 1997 - Cuts right half way up 'Hematomocaribouma' and pulls/traverses a large roof. On the ascent, my last pieces for 25' were two screws under the left side of the roof Image. I fell first try, I then lowered and sent it second try. It was a complete sustained ice roof, my picks never touched moss or hooked rock, thus it warranted a grade of WI7. FA: Eddie Phay and Josh Sonkiss
'Middle Pillar Express' WI6 1999 - The first ascent was in very thin conditions Image. I some how wiggled a perfect stopper in a crack behind the pillar that convinced me to continue... I then stemmed my way up and eventually, when I judged it fat enough to hold weight, stepped fully onto the pillar. FA: Eddie Phay and friends
'Hematoma' WI6 1997? - This was the first ascent of the formation. FA: Steve Garvey and friends (rest in peace brother)
'Father Figure' M7 WI6 1999 - The climb can be accessed in a number of ways. Here's two pictures at the time of ascent Image Image. It climbs the hanging ice directly above me there. The access used at the time of the ascent was essentially a straight line with a huge mixed roof in the middle. There's very long bolts in the hoof. I have no idea of the current state of those bolts in crumby Alaskan limestone. FA: Eddie Phay and Joel Schihl
'Corner Pocket' WI6 1998 - Climb the far right corner and then finish at either 'Father Figure' or 'Hematoma' (the one used on the first ascent). FA: Eddie Phay and friends
Roughly 3/4 mile past the Hematoma Amptheater
'Icemonaunts' M6 WI6 2000 - There's a 600'+ thin black water stained gash in the mountain Image, it filled with a thin runnel of ice one year and finished in a huge snow bowl half the way up the mountain. To never be seen again. We were greeted by some bones from a mountain goat when we reached the end of the climb in the bowl. I remember them fitting the moment well. FA: Eddie Phay and Josh Sonkiss
Jack Creek Area
'Big Sky' WI6 2010 - This climb is located in the Jack Creek area, the same area as 'Wing and A Prayer'. The climb is the first one on right and roughly 100' above the canyon floor as one enters the canyon proper, it's directly across from a hanging dagger sitting in a alcove of sorts. Josh and I had attempted Big Sky 8 or so years ago, but the pillar was so dry and cold, like a wall of creaking glass threatening to crumble underneath our points. We backed off...Prudent... I have named the route in respect of many things, which I'll list off. But most of all for a soul who pulled my dumb self from the ashes and kicked it in the ass, that forced me to breathe in the big sky. Like all of Nabesna lines, there's a big sky above you. Then there's big sky beer, one of my favorites, and damn right I drank one that night. Then there's the line in Portage that Garv, Tobin, and I put up. Then there's my new passion, flying in the big sky under a nylon wing. I climb now, I fly now, big sky Image Image Image Image Image. FA: Eddie Phay and Amos Swanson
Skookum Valley Area
'Old Chub' WI4 2010 - This stout little pillar Image is located in the Skookum valley area. The drainage that the pillar sits in Image is very hard to see unless your really close to it. Basically your going to head up into the valley and look for some difficult looking pillars of ice on the right side of the valley. From this formation, Old Chub is the 4th formation of ice that you can't see from the valley floor. It's the next drainage right of the 3rd formation of ice that also sits in a very obvious drainage, that you're able to see. Just start heading towards that drainage but cut right before getting to it, go up uphill for about 400 yards and keep your eyes open... We continued on to the summit ridge when the ice ran out, it's a great view Image and a good day out. FA: Eddie Phay and Jon Schleder
'Kichatna Spire via North Ridge' V/VI 5.9 A2 2nd Ascent 2003
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PIC: Jed Brown,Jeff Benowitz, and Eddie Phay
Possibly more to come.