I just got back from a climbing expedition to the Central Alaska Range with a college friend of mine and figured a quick blog post was in order! It will be a short one, as guide training for the summer season has begun and is keeping me pretty busy. Come out on a glacier tour and I'll be able to tell you more about it!
My main climbing partner, Christian, and I have been dreaming of heading into the Alaska Range for some time now. About a year ago we got the idea to attempt the Havard Route on Mt. Huntington. This route interested us as it has a little bit of every type of climbing. There's a bunch of ice and snow, some rock and even some aid climbing. Plus it was first climbed by four guys from the Northeast whom had met in college. My partner and I are also from the Northeast and met in college so we thought it was a good match!
We flew into the Tokositna Glacier with Talkeetna Taxi Air, and landing on the glacier at over 8,000 feet in elevation surrounded by glaciers and soaring peaks was quite the introduction to the expedition. We made basecamp and begun packing food and gear for the climb. I even was able to get in some powder turns! After a few days the weather was looking good and it was time to climb!
The Harvard route took us 3 days to complete, but we did it! The first push involved 26 hours of straight climbing (5am to 7am the next day), and was one of the most exhausting experiences of my life. We bivied at the bottom of 'The Nose' pitch about halfway up the 4,000 foot west face of Mt. Huntington. Our tent was perched on a tiny ledge about 6 inches narrower than the tent itself with a 4,500 foot sheer drop to the lower Tokositna Glacier. What an amazing place to sleep. After resting for about 12 hours, it was back to climbing. We begun the second climbing push around 10pm and climbing through the night we were able to summit by 3:30 pm. The summit was sunny with endless views in every direction. Quite an incredible place to be, though a little windy and cold.
We soaked in the experience and begun the rappels back to basecamp. We arrived just after 11pm that night to our tent... and immediately ate and passed out. It was quite the workout, but very much worth it!
The next few days were spent resting and recovering. For the rest of the trip we worked on establishing a new variation to the Colton-Leach route, but unfortnately the cold, snowy conditions along with difficult climbing turned us back. Maybe next year... In the end we spent 18 days in the Alaska Range and had an absurdly amazing time. I can't wait to go back!