Alaska repeats and new routesby Tom Briggs Climbing magazine Jun/2005
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Sunrise over Denali, AlaskaFlying to work on the North Slope. Despite tales of the usual horrific weather early season in Alaska, some important repeats and new routes have been completed. Samuel Johnson and Freddie Wilkinson made the 2nd ascent of Jack Tackle and Jim Donini's 1985 route on Hunter, Diamond Arête. The first ascent was an epic 10-day round trip, Johnson and Wilkinson despatched the line in 55 hours up and down, with two bivis. The climbed to the summit in pure alpine style, encountering difficulties of AI4 and M6.
In the Ruth Gorge, Louis-Philippe Ménard and Maxime Turgeon made the second ascent of The Escalator on Mount Johnson, followed by the second ascent of On the Frozen Roads of Our Incertitude on London Tower. After nipping up the classic Ham and Eggs, they then went on to force a new line on Bradley. Their 5,250-foot route is called 'Spice Factory', rated at WI5 M7 5.10R. It took them two attempts, on the first they had to retreat after 18 pitches because they pulled of a huge block that ripped their packs off the face. They were successful on the 2nd attempt, taking 55 hours and finishing in a storm.
Over on Hunter, the legendary Jack Tackle and Fabrizio Zangrilli completed a 4,000-foot line alpine-style in a three-day round trip on the south west face. They were stopped 500 feet below the 12,240 foot summit in a storm, retreating and calling their line The Imperfect Apparition.
Another big name, Valery Babanov, teamed up with Raphael Slawinski to climb a new line on Denali up the south west facing wall below the West Rib. They climbed in alpine style in a 14-hour push, with difficulties up to M4 and M5, but bailed out to the 14,200-foot camp on the West Buttress in a storm. They had intended to continue up easier ground on the upper west Rib to the summit.