Trip ReportLinear Accelerator, Talkeetna Mountains, AK
Lately I feel like climbing is event, a great organizing of mind and strength just to get to the
crag. Its that time of year when its just a little to cold to rock climb but and a bit to warm
to ski. Although that depends entirely on where you are, which is why Amos Swanson and I decided
to head into the Mint Peaks, Talkeetna Mountains. Our goal, Troublemint Peak via Linear
Accelerator. I had heard of this climb before and was anxious to give it a go. I had hurt my
ankle earlier in the year even before my trip to the Arrigetch and it still hadn't healed. In
fact I felt it was getting worse lately possibly developing some sort of tendonitis, so I hiked
and substantial distance in quite some time.I should have known what I was getting myself into!
Please excuse and dirt specks in the photo's. It turns out my lens was dirtier then I thought!
We brough bikes and for the first 4 and a half miles we biked uphill into the valley. I have
used my bike all summer as a mode of transportation but somehow I was still plenty exhausted by
then end of those miles.
Our objective, Troublemint Peak
The trail was a nice brisk walk at very little incline for the first 3 or 4 miles. I decided
that it would be nice to wear my mountaineering boots since ice climbing was going to be
involved. Being the nicely prepared fellow that I am I could not find them, seriously. So I
threw on the pair that I bought recently at a NOLS sale. What could go wrong with an overused
pair of plastic Scarpas? I was finding out quickly what could go wrong. At first my calvs
started to burn where the plastic was rubbing gingerly against my muscle. Then I soon began to
feel like a drunk walking on stilts. Every uneven surface I would stumble and fall over. It was
an akward final portion of the hike to the hut where the uphill battle began. Normally I would
jump quickly along the cliffs edge not thinking twice about my balance, but now I was gripped to
the rock slipping on anything not pasted with sandpaper. Quite possibly the most akward painful
hike I have ever done. On reaching the hut, in the middle of the night, we found that it was
also the coldest night of the winter so far. Everything froze. Amos tried to dig out water but
found that he couldn't get any in the bottle before it froze in the small creek. He covered his
jacket and my axe with ice before coming back empty handed, we melted snow instead. I covered
myself with my slepeing bag, then another from the hut, then all of the extra bags floating
around the hut. All told my night was a warm sleepful wonder.
We knew we had to get an early start to get the climb done so we made sure not to bring a clock,
or any device that could be used to tell the time. When we woke up it was guesswork as to the
time. It went along the lines of "Well the moon is here now when it was there before." We left
at the first sign of any sense of light, later then we should have.
I had before more accustomed to the boots which I still cursed openly. Once on the snow they
were a much more manageable affair. We made quick time to the glacier and when we came to our
first sign of crevasses we roped up. I took the lead and jumped some of the larger gaps which
all seem to have no end. The route loomed above us looking much steeper then the reported 45
degree slope but we remained in high spirits. The route can be seen up and left splitting the
We crisscrossed the glacier and made our way to the route without difficulty. Thankfully a hard
windblown layer made for easy walking. The route looks to have avalanched recently giving us a
nice clean layer of ice and hard snow for the taking. As we approached the route our excitment
The surrounding peaks are nothing short of extrodinary.
With perfect conditions and our minds recharged we headed up the first few pitches solo. Every
tool sank in with a resounding thunk, climbing this portion we worked up a sweat climbing as
fast as our feet could move.
We reached a section of harder ice and roped up for the next few pitches. For some reason I
decided to get adventurous and headed off into a mixed contraption of large blocks and loose
sugary snow, im still unsure what was going on in my head but it turned out to be fun anyway.
After aroung 6 or 7 pitches we were on top of the notch on the ridge of the peak. This gave us
our first good look around and we noticed that the sun was lower then we had hoped at this point
in the day. Still we decided to head up the first rock pitch and see how we felt from there.
I climbed into a rock chimney with my large obnoxious plastic boots on and came to a chockstone
half as big as I was. I hit it a few times and noticed that it sounded about as solid as
everything else I was standing on so I decided to use it. After a little fumbling I heel hooked
over a ledge and threw myself over a small roof onto the top of what I could only call a flying
saucer preparing to go home. The earth started to shake under my feet and I thought for sure I
was about to visit ET when I saw out of the corner of my eye the chockstone I had yanked on
moments before. The whole thing and ,large other portions of the chimney, rode down inches from
my rope toward Amos and then gingerly lept to his right to continue down the steep face.
I stood shaken for a moment still expecting the VW bus sized flat I was standing on to disappear
then quickly climbed beyond. I still didn't have any protection in until another 15 ft, around
50 ft from my belayer. I quickly put in one bad cam then continued to the anchor. The climb
would have been nothing short of a breeze without snow coverage and in rock shoes. Once on the
ridge we saw the finish to the summit.
In one of the more difficult decisions we decided that we had just run out of time and should
head back down. We are not certain how long it would take to get to the final summit but
considering our time and the obstacles we assumed we needed another two hours to get there and
back to our current point. We began our rappel back into the gully wishing we had brought
another rope. I also managed to loose the slings in the backpack and assumed they were not there
We reached the last two rappels before it was dark, my headlamp took the liberty of going down
to candle strength. Thankfully the moon decided to grace us with its presence. Looking around
before the sun dipped away we had our last glimpse, a most incredible sight.
We made it down, crossed the glacier in the dark following our footsteps and made it back to the
hut sometime in the middle of the night. We made our way back out and toward the car with no
concept of time but a sense of accomplishment. The goal of Troublemint had not been reached but
we felt we achieved the success of attempt. We went and gave it what we had, made good choices,
and lived to come back and give it a go another day. Sure I didn't get home until 4am, and it
wasn't the most impressive climb in the world, but just like all the other incredible routes that
have changed my life throughout the years, I'll remember it well and smile the day I stand at
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