Arrigetch Peaks TR


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Big Wall climber
Topic Author's Original Post - Aug 19, 2009 - 12:53pm PT
Hello Everyone at Supertopo! I haven't posted much before but I thought maybe this post was okay to grace the pages. It's a bit long and written so that my family could understand what was going on, so I hope its not boring! I did have a question for anyone who might have been in the Arrigetch before.
1. We found an old cache of gear, this included pitons and ropes from what we guessed was late 60's early 70's. Any ideas on the owner?

Okay off to my abnormally long trip report.

Around 4 years ago John Borland and I decided to go on a big climb into the northern areas of Alaska above the Arctic Circle. We decided on a beautiful spire called Shot Tower as our main objective. This tower included 16 pitches of climbing with one of those pitches being A2. A2 means that it is ascended by aid climbing, that is using gear entirely to ascend that portion. We began the first stage and started to learn how to aid climb. As most people know things don't always go as planned and we ended up being quoted $2000 each for our trip. "$2000?!" we said, "thats more then a trip to Thailand!". The next thing we knew we were off to Thailand and thus began 4 years of traveling and utter nomadism. Still throughout those years something was missing, something had yet to be accomplished and that was the tower jutting mightily from the earth, hundreds of miles from civilization.
It is July 2009 and I am perusing Alaska Mountain Forum as I stumble across a post asking for partners into the Arrigetch Valley. Their goal; Shot Tower. I feel a light tingle float up
my spine as again the possibilities radiate through me. I quickly shoot the idea down. Money, Planning, time, I just don't have any of those available; but still I reply. Soon I am sending emails back and forth with Marcin Ksok and he tells me that the plane ride will cost $650. That once again sends me spiraling through the opportunity and I agree to join. With just a few days of gathered planning we are all sitting in a car still chatting with the basic questions as we get to know each other. Brian Fredricks, Rob Litsenberger, Marcin Ksok, and I drive to Fairbanks and enter the equivalent of crawling into a fireplace. Choking down the air makes me feel like a smoker, and headaches are passed all around. Meeting up with Mike Miller he led us through the backwoods to a Yurt where we spent our first night of the trip.
Awaking to more smoke from the fires burning all over the interior we continued our drive onto Coldfoot, another 7 hours or so along the famous Haul Road of Alaska. After taking a painless class in Backcountry Orientation and a rather painful class in Arctic Art at the Arctic Interagency Visitor Center we hit up what would be our last real civilized meal for several weeks an $18.95 buffet that I have yet to regret.

That night we stayed at a campsite outside of Coldfoot for the first night in a tent, looking at the tent I would be living in with Brian gave me the feeling that we would be quite cozy by the end of this trip. Our two sleeping pads cuddled each other effectively and got to know one another. The first night we woke to a frost, apparently it was going to be colder then we had realized!

We headed back to the Visitor Center, as much for the bathrooms as to get information for access and decided we would try to get access to South Arrigetch Creek from Takahula Lake. At the airport we weighed all our gear, and ourselves, and groaned about pretty much anything that was going to add an ounce. Soon our packs were down to a healthy 70+ pounds. Only Marten managed to get his down below 70 lbs. and that was before adding a gallon of fuel. I put mine on the scale it seemed to yell the weight into my eardrums, 81 lbs. Ouch. After some tweaking I got it down to 74 lbs. And was probably much to proud of myself. I personally weighed 240 pounds. We put all our money together in cash with the exception of Marten, allowing us to ask the question “If the check doesn't clear do we get picked up?” oddly there are smiles and laughs, but no answer.

Coyote Air was our travel of choice, most people seem to fly through Bettles to access the Arrigetch but Coldfoot was our choice because it can be accessed by road, thus bringing down the costs of travel. Dirk was a great pilot telling us stories of his first climb, which happened to be on Mt. Hunter and with Alex Lowe and Conrad Anker, and lots of other interesting facts. He spotted at gravel bar on the Alatna River that he said would be good for a landing and skimmed the water surface as he came down gently on an uneven rocky surface. I hope that sounded like I was calm, in reality I probably ground a few teeth down to nubs.

Standing on the bank of the Alatna River in the Brooks Range with several people I had only just me in the last month I waved goodbye to Dirk.

Steven King probably would have called us a Ka-tet, 4 people bound to a single purpose and it was our goal to achieve that tower. It also happens that the only book I brought along was the Wizard and Glass by Stephen King.
We threw on our packs and headed off into unbroken trail up the creek which leads to the valley. A mist was followed by a light drizzle which didn't matter to much because we had only made it a few miles before our feet were wet.

At times we would be walking the creek bed, happy that the going was so easy and only feeling the pain of our packs. Then we would soon be brought back to the reality of the situation by a bushwhack over alders and through trees which would last hours. The breaks were numerous and each time we would learn we had only gone a few miles, usually less. Every few seconds one, or all, of us would yell “Hey Bear”, “Yo Bear”, “How you doing bear?”, or some sort of combination. Whenever Marten would yell “Oh Hey Bear” it sounded to me as though he was actually talking to one and I would gaze around nervously expecting a reply “Hows it going? Which one of your is the heaviest? Its getting late and I'd like to stock up.”
Our first campsite was at the pass one would use to get into the other creek, if someone was so inclined to do so. We could smell sulfur nearby and knew about a hot springs in the vicinity although we had also heard not to get our hopes up. After a good meal Marten headed off to find the spring while the rest of us collapsed into a deep stupor. The spring, Marten would later tell us, was like holding down the button on a water fountain and was either too hot or too cold.

The next morning it continued to drizzle, thanks to our already wet shoes it didn't seem to bad. We also all knew that it would be only 4 miles to the upper campsite. That was only half of the distance we had covered the day before and that was something to celebrate about. We left camp in good spirits, which were soon shattered in sounds of alders as they splintered under our feet. The immediate mile took 3 hours. Some of the walking your feet never touched the ground they simply limped along amongst the alders which decided to grow horizontally instead of vertically. I would duck my head and just dive in, sometimes they caught the pack tipping my already teetering body in all directions. Then we finally emerged onto the other side of the stream to a much easier hike of boulders under tundra. The next few miles went at about a mile per hour but felt like we were sprinting after the previous epic.

The campsite was a beautiful knoll of soft grass with the occasional boulder that was hard to find until you were laying on it. Rob found a friend in his piece of granite and named him Gary, one could often hear them cuddling in the night with Rob doing most the talking. We setup the site which would be our home for the next few weeks and rolled into our sleeping bags.

The next morning the weather was decent but the smoke obscured most of our views. Sometimes we would get a glimpse on the shadow of Wichman at the head of the valley, others it was merely a blank spot in our vision.

We took this day as a sort of rest before doing Shot Tower. It was my goal not to move any muscles and just let them recover a bit before going into the big climb. Within a few hours however I was following Marten up the valley that would be our approach. We did a two hour hike to get a good view of the approach and stared at the massive hunk of rock we had all come to climb. We stumbled our way back down the talus which was mostly large loose boulders over small loose blocks. After a good dinner we sorted gear and decided on teams of Rob and I and Brian and Marten for the climb. We would leave first at 4am with Brian and Marten following next at 5am giving us some time to get a few pitches before they got behind us.

My little alarm clock beeped away at 4am, I awoke and grabbed it in my hand hitting snooze quickly and with the effectiveness of a professional. Soon I was falling back into a deep serenity of quiet and darkness. Before the impact however I opened my eyes, it was my job to get Rob up and if we were going to do this climb then it wasn't going to not happen because of me. I rasped on Robs tent and we made our way to the cooking area. A nice stream bed that ran only when the water was high and was itself only a few seconds walk from the main stream. Breakfast was made and enjoyed before we left at 4:30am to begin. The smoke had not left the valley and the hike up was a long trudge through boulders and gigantic loose blocks. As they rolled they seemed to spew obscenities for being moved on such short notice. It appeared they were angry whenever they came rolling onto a foot or attempted to take a finger. After a few hours we were at the base of the climb, with that behind us we once again became excited about what appeared before us.

We racked up and headed into the climb and were barely a few pitches up before Brian and Marten were racking their own gear below the climb, we were the slower hikers. The first few pitches of climbing were easy and of average quality. Every now and then we would pull out the sheet of paper which described, loosely, the pitches ahead and wonder at what the description really meant. What does “slow” really mean as the entire description for a route?

After a few hours and a good clump of pitches we were past a traverse of the mushroom. The mushroom is a large overhanging block that is normally done by skipping it entirely.

After a few excellent pitches of climbing we finally came to the crux of the route. A 60ft overhanging thin crack that is done by aid climbing. Rob took this moment to lay his head down, Marten mentioned that he hoped rob didn't sleepwalk. About one foot from his head is a 1000ft drop.

After some discussion I started the first portion of the route and got half way up before I came down and switched off with Brian. It was nice to break this pitch up into two and not half to lead the entire portion. During the climb my hand and arm began to cramp up which led me to think I hadn't had enough water for the day, this was surprising because I had probably drank 2 liters of water since beginning the climb and that really didn't seem so long ago. Brian had never aid climbed before and after showing him how to use the etriers and easy daisy he jump right into his first aiding experience. After a while he was very quiet and seemed to be moving along well so I asked an arbitrary question “How's it going up there?” and retrieved a rather quick reply of “I'm about to F#&^ing S**@ myself.” This garnered some good laughter from those of us on the ground and Brian continued his quiet exaction of the route at hand.

Soon he had finished and we were all above the headwall with Rob and I heading toward the summit with just a few pitches of climbing left. Rob was the first to the summit and I followed shortly thereafter. The views, although smoky, were incredible. The smoke gave it an otherworldly view and the peaks unfolded around us. Brian took a summit video and the sound of camera shutters were very evident.

Shortly thereafter were headed back down. Marten looked at his watch and we were all surprised to hear that it was 9:30pm. We had been on the wall now for 17 hours with no rest.
Some of the rappels were nice and quick, we backed almost every one of them up with new webbing we had brought for the occasion. At one of the rappels, back to the mushroom, it was just a large stone. To sling the block I moved it out of its current resting place, wrapped a sling around it and put it back in. The block itself couldn't have weighed more then 60 lbs, had it given away the fall would have been around 1300 ft and rather unpleasant. The night wore on and at times patience wore on with it. At one spot we were all crammed into a small corner with ropes piled out our feet. Normally a spacious place for two this hole became a pile of people and gear in a matter of minutes. Grumpy voices followed quickly and slightly anxious movements before finally we were off and continuing down the face. I decided to backup a hex placement with cord while Rob watched me anxiously, finally asking “Are you going to pull the rope?!” Questions here on the face had a funny way of sounding like instant requests at this time of night. Still we continued down, there were a few moments when the dark seemed almost that, dark. I had left my headlamp at the base of the climb, a reoccurring theme for me, and used Robs to finish up the last few pitches to the ground. By the time we reached the base of the climb it was beginning to get light once again and a look at the clock alerted us to the the time. 4:00am.

So far it had been a 24 hour climb with no rest and we still had the hike back down to go. This was a slow laborious process where every now and then you would see someone fall down and wait to see if they were going to get back up. If they didn't you assumed they were just resting anyway, maybe they'll be at the tent later. After a few hours at the base of the last steep field of seemingly never ending rock Marten sat waiting for everyone, as we came upon him he said rather non nonchalantly “I fell asleep and just woke up.”

The last person arrived at camp at 7:30am. 27 hours after we had started the morning before. Brian and I talked about making something to eat before sleeping, I got as far as the creek and made some water then remember opening my eyes in the tent thinking “Well this is an odd place to have something to eat”, then I was off to sleep again.

My eyes came open at about 1:30pm that same day and my stomach commanded me to rise. Breakfast was a wonderful feeling to behold as was the rest of that day while we talked about the blur in our memories that was Shot Tower and made sure we didn't move further then 100 yards from camp.

The day passed quickly and we were all soon back into our sleeping bags. Next day we talked about what we should do as the next objective and settled on Pyramid Peak. Pyramid Peak rose from the back of the valley out of a glacier lined in all sides by rock. Sounded excellent, unfortunately we wouldn't be climbing that peak on this trip. For the rest of the day we decided it was time for a little self cleaning. Which for some of us meant launching ourselves off a 25 foot cliff into a wonderful blue pool of glacial goodness. Hitting the water was an instant shock but it was great to get out and feel the warm sun on our skin. The day from there was a breeze of relaxation.

Eating in the morning was slow, we took our time getting out toward the peak because we had decided to bivy at the base after the rumored 6 hour approach. We took gear and our sleeping bags with us toward the peak. I was at least 30 minutes from camp before I realized I had left my climbing shoes in the tent and decided that I would just do the climb in hiking boots.

After a few hours of hiking we came to a glacier with rocks balanced precariously over the edge.

Brian ran ahead and said that he felt it was not to bad and Marcin climbed a ridge behind saying it wasn't going to be easy.

We really didn't come to do anything easy however so after some discussion Brian and Rob decided to try a small bit of slab to access the glacier and from there see if they can find a way up. None of us had come expecting glacier travel so we had left all crampons and glacier equipment at home, not that I would have wanted to add onto our already overloaded packs. After Brian had crawled his way over a few large blocks with Rob trailing closely behind those same rocks he used to ascend released their loose hold on the ground. Rob hopped nimbly downward in an interpretation of “Cirque de crush you with granite” and narrowly avoided another catastrophe. “F@#$ this I'm done.” Was all it took for us all to shake our heads in agreement. Nobody wanted to be the one who turned the whole group back. We sat staring at the glacier in different modes of agreement before we watched a rock as big as myself come crashing off the glacier ripping down one of the paths we thought would be a good route for ascent. It had barely found its rest before we were headed back. We stopped and did a short hike to the top of a small peak on the way back just to get some good views over the valley and all agreed that we were happy to have attempted the peak.

When we returned to camp I was very tired, I had awoken at 6am and couldn't get back to sleep thanks to the vivid dreams that seemed to pervade every inch of my sleep. So I dragged my sleeping bag by the fire and slept laid over an alder.
In the dream I was laying under granite pillars, the sound of rushing water melting into every sense of my being. The sun had crept off behind clouds which played with rain. Soon little drops of water were changing the color of my sleeping bag from blue to dark blue and each little drop sounded like it fell alone into an empty bucket. My eyes opened and I hadn't dreamt at all. Everyone was running about and the rain began to increase in intensity. I wondered why nobody had bothered to tell me and I ran to the tent to crawl back into my now damp bag. Shortly after the real dreams took me over.
It rained all night and was glad to see that the tent had held it all out. This seems like something you would expect since it is, after all, covered with a rainfly but there has been to many times of leaky tents for me to trust it simply on name. That morning I leaned over and unzipped the tent doors, by this time fully expecting the normal smoke and obstructed views. What I did see was a totally different valley. Suddenly peaks were protruding from everywhere. The blue of the sky gave me the impression I had fallen into the ocean where giants roamed about in granite wonder. I excitedly grabbed my camera and started to take pictures. Brian leaned his head and was able to mutter a “Oh Cool” before reentering his sleep state.

Normally I felt as though I had to crawl from the tent but today I was out in a flash. Feeling the energy of the sun lift me beyond the peaks as my camera shutter worked itself into a frenzy. The sun dipped behind a peak and suddenly a shadow appeared, this simple thing seemed so foreign. There hadn't been any shadows when the clouds and smoke were blocking the sun.
I giggled excitingly as I spoke “Lets go climb something!”
“Whats the weather like?” was the response I garnered from the yellow tent.
“Its amazing bluebird skies, sunshine, beautiful, amazing!” I could harldy contain my elation and thought for sure everyone would come bustling out of the tent any moment.
“Yea right.”
“If it is so sunny why is it so cold?”
“Were in the shadow of a giant mountain!”

Soon Marcin came out of the tent and looked around before saying a surprised “Its Beautiful!”. I nodded my head in agreement. We decided it was to beautiful not to go climbing and we settled on heading up the opposite ridge as we had before. It looked like a straight hike up scree, talus, tundra, and boulders but I don't think any of us expected what we got. The boulder hopping field seemed to go on forever. At times we would hike for 20 minutes before looking up and thinking “did it just get further away?”. It took hours to get to the top of the ridge and when we arrived Brian instantly spied a line that looked fun on a formation near to the Maidens. The Maidens are two peaks which sit side by side with rounded tops.

It is hard to know how many peaks got their names but some seem pretty obvious. The formation we approached was rounded at the base and much smaller then the maidens. Sitting on top of the round was a rather excited looking protrusion. It would come to be known as the Maidens Nipple, after much discussion.

Brian led the first few pitches of climbing up to a great ledge, both pitches of climbing were great and it was nice to be on unknown ground.

I decided to lead the next pitch so we switched over gear. Rob took a trip to the ridge to get a good view of the valley below so we decided to climb this odd formation in a 3 person party, because of rockfall one person would usually wait at a belay for a while so that the other two could climb and hook up a follow rope. I put a piece of gear in near the belay and climbed on the easy ground for a few feet, my mind hadn't yet warmed up to climbing today apparently as my legs began to shake. My grip seemed weak and all I could think of was the rocks that were going to come following me down as I fell to my belayers ledge. In reality this couldn't have been more then 8 feet away. Not really something to worry about but it can be hard to explain the way a brain works when climbing, today I felt nervous. I continued the climb over gripping most holds and nervously shuffling my feet until I came to an overhanging hand crack. Brian suggested that I move left along a large ledge and gain the ridge and after inspecting the possibilities I found that that it was easy enough to do so. This is, however, something that spoke into the back of my mind and asked “Are you going to really miss out on hand jams? You have the gear, give it a shot.” A minute later I had my hands cupped to increase my grip in the crack. I had put a piece of gear below at the start of the crack and now it was time to put in another. I reached down to my right to find the correct size and realized that I put them all on my left side. Unfortunately my left hand was doing all the work at the moment and every time I had reached for the gear with my right across my body I nearly fell from the wall. After a few moments thinking I climbed to what I hoped would be the end of the crack and large hold. I was rewarded as hoped and bellowed a “Jesus, that was hard!” before continuing to a good belay point. Brian agreed to the difficulty after he had followed and Marcin only looked at me with the response of “You are crazy” after he followed successfully.
The rest of the climb was a mix of traversing and down climbing which lead us to the final summit sitting over the Arrigetch Valley and allowing us all a view of the 30 pitch route that is on Central Maiden Peak.

We also were allowed something that seems not normally found in the Arrigetch, that is we were able to walk off from the summit and not use any slings or webbing for rappel. Thus began the slow and laborious trek back to camp. Everyone would eventually speak of aching knees and joints. It was hard not to when it felt like we were jumping inch by inch down the mountain, each time landing on unstable ground. At one point I ran down the edge of a rock and put all my weight into a boulder larger then my own bulk but that didn't keep it from tipping downward. Suddenly I was a little kid on the playground who pushed a bully, now he was rushing at me snickering “nanana na na boom thump”. I faced downhill and sprinted along on a few boulders before finding my way to safety and continuing the slog back to camp.

That night we sat around the camp and talked about names for the route and the formation. Eventually we called the route the South Ridge of the Maidens Nipple. Not having names for routes but instead just letters from the compass.

The next morning, after our 8th night in the Arrigetch we all moved slowly out of the tents and to the cooking area. It was another beautiful day with sunshine and blue skies although we all noticed that since the clouds had left, so did the heat. It was starting to get chilly and those of us with large coats were wearing them, in fact we were wearing them with a large smile hugging ourselves and humming “mmmmmmmm thats so warm mmmmmmm” so that the onlookers thought about how a simple knife slice would deflate our satisfaction. We were still a bit sore from the day before but it's just to hard to skip a beautiful day so Marcin, Rob and I grabbed some gear and headed back up toward Shot Tower to climb a chimney I had seen on a separate formation. We hiked the hour back up to the valley and I launched into one of the most enjoyable climbs I have had in quite a while. It was short and not very difficult but something about the situation and the place makes every climb in the area amazing. I climbed up to the chimney, slung a chockstone and lifted my feet high to the only foothold around. Then I lunged up and wedged my whole body into the crack. At first I couldn't quite fit and found I had prematurely launched headfirst, jamming myself in a very awkward stance. It took some finagling but soon I was able to continue from inside the crack itself. Large boulders lined the edge precariously perched upon one another waiting for the gentle touch to begin a not so gentle fall. After climbing the crack Marcin followed and I tried another harder crack to the left. After donating a good amount of blood to the granite gods I decided it wasn't going to go and I moved around it to climb a higher section. Rob scrambled around the formation with the enthusiasm of a child eating a popsicle. Marcin smiled looking graciously at Shot Tower and our other surroundings, if life could be better I almost didn't want to know about it.

The night fell and we fell with it, I had moved on from my book and now it was Brian who was engrossed within its pages. I felt euphoric and almost positive that I was awake, all made sense. I looked up at Brian and told him something along the lines of;
“Its better on the ridges.”
“What?” Brian looked confused.
“The ridges where we are.” Obviously Brian had forgotten that we were perched high on a ridge with other mountain people of lore who were depending on us to stay alert.
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“Whats going on over there?” It was Robs time to chime in, obviously he knows how important it is that we stay on the ridge!
After some more rambling where I am pretty sure Brian just gets tired of me and continues to read his book I still feel that what I am saying is correct even though I am now slowly coming to the realization that we are still on the same grassy knoll at the base of the valley. I drift back off to sleep with Brian's laughter at my obvious sleep talking the last thing I hear.
Marcin took the job of Head Fire Chief seriously as he tended to the pile of alders and smoke nearly all day. Brian agreed to some bouldering and we had a good time finding routes on the lichen covered boulder at the head of the valley.

Soon we were back to the fire watching the process. Put on sticks, blow, wait for flame, blow again, sit back and pretend it's warm. Near the end of the day Marcin decided to go picking for blueberries, which were a little tart but still tasty in oatmeal. It was a bit of a surprise when Marcin returned with a climbing rope that looked about 30 years old, and that it had come from Home Depot. He led us all back to what appeared to be an old cache of gear, we are not sure how old it was or how long it had been there but after some searching we guess sometime in the 70's. There were ropes, draws, glacier glasses, hob nail boots, pitons, and food strewn through the rocks and tundra; damn Krakauer. The holes in the cans gave the impression that there was food, before an animal got to it. We spent the remainder of our night pretending to be archaeologists, guessing the dates on equipment and looking for date clues on every piece of garbage. Thus ended our last night in the Arrigetch Peaks.
We had decided to hike to the first came, four miles down valley, and continue from there if we felt like it to a good place to camp for the night. So at noon we looked back at the place that became home and whispered our goodbyes. The hike was going well and soon we were back at the first campsite, everyone was doing well and had plenty of energy so we continued on. Miles passed below our feet as we continued on, usually in silence. The river had gone down significantly since we had arrived in the valley and that made going much easier along the creekbed. All the areas that had caused us issue on the way in were now much easier on the way out. After 7 hours of hiking we had come to within the last mile of camp. My shoes were dry, as were Marcins and one of Robs but that didn't last. This last section of river necessitated a crossing and so we dove in thinking “hey its been pretty easy going comparativly, lets just get this over with.”
We appeared at the river an hour later panting and covered in mosquitos, although I am not sure they could eat me through the sweat and tree's that stuck to my body. I looked at Brian and muttered “That was hell.” It was possibly the worst mile I can ever remember. Crossing swamps that went from dry to soaking, diving headlong into alders, walking tussocks, watching a Barbara Streisand special, nothing was enjoyable. In my small daily notes I put it as “Sucked Royally” and I can't think of how to better describe it now. At least we had finally reached our destination and wouldn't have to hike again before we headed out. The plane wouldn't be in for another day and a half so we spent the entire next day sleeping, reading, and generally enjoying the sunshine.

Dirk picked us up on the morning of the 14th where we would head back to Coldfoot and I would find I had lost 17 pounds. As we headed out we had our final glimpse of the valley which will stand stall and clear within all our dreams.

On a side note, if you are ever on the Haul Road and are near Yukon Crossing, don't forget to stop at the Hot Spot Cafe. A Boo Boo burger is where it's at. I got a was incredible.

Well that's it for this Trip Report, I hope someone managed it all the way through!

Trad climber
Santa Clara, Ca.
Aug 19, 2009 - 01:01pm PT

That is an awesome TR, dude. Beautiful country back there! Those climbs look fun too.
Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer

Trad climber
Bay Area
Aug 19, 2009 - 01:07pm PT
This is AWESOME! Amazing pictures, great words and a beautiful place. Thanks.

Davis, CA
Aug 19, 2009 - 01:16pm PT
lele honu

Trad climber
san diego, ca
Aug 19, 2009 - 01:27pm PT
Nice TR. Back in '93 I walked from the Dalton to Anaktuvuk Pass with YMCA group. Spent 30 days hiking. Beautiful, remote country. Way to stick it way out there and climb.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Aug 19, 2009 - 01:39pm PT
wow, one of the best TR's ever. nicely done!

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Aug 19, 2009 - 01:44pm PT

A friends backyard with the neighbors wifi
Aug 19, 2009 - 01:47pm PT
Awesome TR, what an amazing Valley...

No photos of the gear cache?! Thats a cool little find.

Aug 19, 2009 - 01:51pm PT
best ever! if i'm wrong dig 'em out i want to see those too. you're pilot dirk nickisch is a friend of mine from when i was doing aviation weather south of there in tanana. shared my manuals with danielle so she could become certified for the same job. i particularly admired their partnership of equals that was forged in a part of the world where pulling your weight makes a difference.

i'll always remember the little bump in pride i felt when dirk flew in, and refering to my newly acquired 1947 stinson tied down next to the station, said "let's check out your steed." i did my first cross country solo up to bettles and helped him move mattresses out of their winter quarters. he was flying a 185 then and just starting a family. it's great he got set up with the beaver over in coldfoot. if you end up suffering a weather delay, stumble around the little "town" of wiseman for an equally authentic, virtually unique brooks experience.

there should be some serious recognition for the pilots from amongst the mountaineering crowd. there's been a few we've all heard of but in so many cases i consider them the unnamed member of the team. they are the ones that make it feasable, make critical judgements about the place trying to do best by you, suffer the weather maybe even more, sweat bullets about getting you out, and put every bit as much at stake getting it done. it ain't right to think of them as taxi drivers, just cause they're off to do it again for someone else. we come and go while those guys stick to their knitting so that we CAN come and go. there's love enough to share with the whole darn team. great to see you dirk, and best to the whole fam damily! ... rick hooven

Trad climber
fresno, ca
Aug 19, 2009 - 01:52pm PT
Killer! Way to get lost in the big 'ol wide open. Well done. Thanks for the effort you put into the TR. Way to keep the torch burning.

Aug 19, 2009 - 02:01pm PT

Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
Aug 19, 2009 - 02:03pm PT
What an awe-inspiring location! Nice trip guys. Thanks for the TR.
Jerry Dodrill

Sebastopol, CA
Aug 19, 2009 - 02:03pm PT
Wow! I've been wanting to go there since seeing Walt Vennum's slideshow about ten years ago. Glad you had a great trip!


Big Wall climber
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 19, 2009 - 02:11pm PT
Thanks everyone for the wonderful response! I really enjoy the community you guys got going here!

More pictures of the trip can be found on Bryans Page (including a few of the cache):

Chris we all talked about how wonderful it would be to jump from the summit and float down to camp or at least the lower saddle. Elevation on this peak is around 1600ft I believe and the Magnum Wall, The main wall located in the photo's looks pretty overhanging. None of us base jump but I would love to see it happen from Shot Tower! If you ever decided to give it a shot let me know. I would go back there in a heartbeat. ;)

hooblie: I agree with how great the pilots are. He dropped us off even closer then we thought we would get and was an awesome guy. He even handed off a few of his Kokanee stash to some of the guys on the way out!
On another note he actually has several beavers now. A 1952 and a 1953 I believe!


Aug 19, 2009 - 02:12pm PT
The goods!

Trad climber
East Side, California
Aug 19, 2009 - 02:13pm PT
Nicely done TR. I've been back there in the Arrigetch, but I didn't get to climb anything. Gonna go back.

Old Pueblo, AZ
Aug 19, 2009 - 02:15pm PT
Awesome documentation of an incredible locale and radical trip.
Thanks for taking the time to put that together and share it.

Trad climber
Aug 19, 2009 - 02:21pm PT

your pics are unbelievable

i especially like this one


Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Aug 19, 2009 - 02:28pm PT
Remote - that's where it's at! You guys hung it out, a long way out there. That builds character better than anything I know of. You have begun on the road of building a controlled confidence that will serve you well for the rest of your life.

I love the pic drying the footware by the fire. It brought back so many tactile memories that I can actually feel and smell.

Austin, TX
Aug 19, 2009 - 03:19pm PT
Great TR!
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