Published on 24/06/2019
Our table football skills started to improve when we finally heard "weather is good for flying, get ready". Beautiful views of Alaska range with Denali, Kichatna spires and many more. First stop was Fish glacier where Dutch team exited. There was almost a meter of powder on a glacier and on a flight to our glacier we were worried of conditions there.
First step on the Revelation glacier was a surprise, because there was no powder. We were happy and started to prepare a base camp. Put up the tent, made a wall around it, dug a toilet and kitchen hole was the work we had done the first afternoon. Next day we decided to climb Pyramid Peak. Alarm clock woke us up. We had mixed feelings about climbing due to strong wind. We decided to stay in base camp. When we got out of tent we found that our kitchen is filled with snow. Digging out the food and improving the wall around the tent was our main work during that day. Strong wind made work "enjoyable".
Next morning was the same, but we decided to go. We failed in the first pitch of Pyramid Peak because blown snow in a corner. I saw a nice ridge to Four Horsemen East. A gully led us to a col and then we followed the ridge. First pitch was a bouldery M6, with some loose blocks. Next pitches were easier, climbing left and right to find the way to the top. Ridge traverse on the top was demanding due to strong wind that occasionally forced us to crawl on our knees. We did one short rappel from the ridge and then climb to the top. We descended to couloir between East and the highest peak. We were happy with a climb, thinking about the dinner. Base camp reality was not nice. Collapsed wall, different shape of tent, covered with some snow. We worked during the night, with the wind that blew us down once. Luckily our tent poles were just bent not broken.
After a rest day, we went to Golgotha. The chimney system in the east face offered a step and consistent climbing. Pitch nine was fully blown with snow that covered thin ice. Battle with snow went well, but the last part was to bad to continue. We started to rappel, the weather got worse and spindrifts made the descent demanding. We rested for three days and then we went back to Golgotha. Easier line on the right side of east face attracted our attention when we first saw it. 900 meters of snow, first half is more "walking" than climbing. The upper part is steeper, with perfect snow conditions. We belayed for three pitches. Clear sky on the top offered us a endless view to all directions. We down climbed the existing route.
Two rest days and then it was climbing time again. We went to unnamed peak above cirque at start of Revelation glacier. 700m face looked smaller from base camp. We followed a corner with perfect snow and ice conditions. We climbed unroped for the first 350m. The crux was a corner filled with narrow and thin ice. Route follows ice smear through the big chimney under chockstone with overhanging exit. We followed the ridge and climbed the top boulder. The descent follows the ridge and drops to a gully, right of our route. Some climbing and rappelling to reach the glacier.
The weather forecast was good, so after a rest day we went down the glacier to climb the line that we checked few days before. Route follows the gully on north-west face of Apocalypse North. After 300m up to 80° we reached a vertical, dry and loose corner. We climbed left of it. First pitch was thin ice, hard to protect. Next pitches had perfect conditions up to 85° and one pitch M6. We reached the gully and follow it for 300m. We did not know the upper part because it was covered with clouds on the observation day. Climbing above the gully was sketchy, with thin ice and unconsolidated snow covering the rock. To reach the ridge there was still 200m of slope with rock band at the top. We found an easy passage between the rocks and then followed the ridge to the top. We did not want to descent by the route we climbed, because steep unconsolidated snow and rock was hard to protect. We tried to follow the ridge to the north-east, the cornices made it impossible to pass and reach the col, where we could descent back to Revelation glacier. We climb down the east face, made 2 rappels and reached the west fork of The Big River Glacier. We did not know if it is possible to reach the cole from east side, so we were very happy when we saw a snow gully to the col. Next days were colder and windier so three rest days felt good.
We started to plan our departure but we decided to climb one line on Seraph before we go. The gully is obvious, left of the French line from last year. First 300m were easier than they looked. We reached a chockstone and steep chimney with blown snow. We started to belay. It was not easy to clean the snow. climbing was enjoyable for the second climber but an overhanging exit did not make it easy. Next pitch was easier with a steep bouldery problem. We found two anchors for rappels. We were standing below the chimney that was not seen from the ground, first part was narrow with ice and the exit was, again, blown with snow. First part was really nice to climb, sometimes, there was no space to swing an axe. The second part was worse then the first pitch. It took me a while to remove all the snow. The crux was thin ice followed by an overhang and my competition experience were very useful. We coiled the rope after an easier pitch and followed easier terrain to the top. I discovered two crevasses on the ridge. Descent followed to the east and then to the gully, which led us back to the base of the route.
Weather the next day did not allow a flight and on Sunday morning we packed up our equipment and flew to Talkeetna.
Article by Janez Svoljšak, pictures by Janez Svoljšak and Miha Zupin.
Janez Svoljšak, in the Grivel team since 2014, comes from Škofja Loka, Slovenia. He was born in 1993 and started climbing in 2003.
He prefers winter climbing, specially mixed climbing.
Favorite Grivel products: Tech Machine ice axes and Plume Nut K3N screwgate carabiner.