Edelweiss's tough-man, Kyle Dempster recently returned from an adventurous trip up in Alaska where he and Justin Griffin went to climb some of the tougher routes on the North Buttress of Mt. Hunter. His excitement and stoke from the trip is evident in his trip report that he shares with us below:
Just got home from a SWEET trip to the North Buttress of Mt. Hunter in Alaska. Climbing partner, Justin Griffin and I hit the weather window perfectly. We arrived to a rainy Anchorage and checking the forecast on the drive up to Talkeetna, we were stoked to see high pressure for the next 10 days! We flew into Kahiltna base camp fresh and ready to rage! Several other friends and climbing colleagues that were hanging out there said that we had just missed some seriously cold temps and tons of snowfall. "Well don't fret boys, we brought the good stuff!"
Less than 24hrs after arriving to BC Justin and I were at the base of Mt. Hunter and gearing up for the North Buttress' hardest route, The Wall of Shadows. In 1994, first ascensionists Michael Kennedy and Greg Childs spent multiple days on the face and rated their climb VI AI6 5.9 A4. And in 2009 the Giri-giri boys free climbed the entire route at M6R/X. Justin and I packed no more than a stove, one fuel can, and an ultra light two person bivy for an all out push on the WOS. Climb aboard the pain train!
500ft into the route Justin began cursing from below me and shouted out that his front point on his crampon had completely sheared off! That left him with a total of ONE front point and 4,500 ft of difficult climbing above. A quick regroup of the situation and we made the decision to continue onward, me leading the entire route and Justin practically campusing the entire thing! The ice this year on Hunter is in fat condition and we enjoyed some spectacularly steep pitches for the first 3000ft! Then we arrived at the crux three pitches, appropriately named "Somewhere Else Wall." It truly was somewhere else. I cast into the first of the M6R/X pitches totally psyched but quickly slowed to holy shit pace! The climbing was real deal as where the runouts in-between gear! Yikes!
20 hours into the route we arrived at the third ice band, where the route joins the immensely easier Bibler-Klewin, and finally brewed up! I was exhausted from leading the entire route and Justin too from following with one semi-working crampon. We decided to descend back down the Bibler-Klewin, try and borrow a crampon from someone, and save our energy for another route.
Back at Kahiltna base camp Justin was able to make a call out to Talkeetna and have a new pair of crampons flown in the next day. A good example of how not remote the Alaska Range is. Now that we had a working pair of crampons to strap onto Justin’s feet, we made use of our time and bag our ascent of the French route before going home to tell this tale of adventure.