Matt Helliker and Jon Bracey on the summit of Mt Grosvenor
UKC News, May 2009
© Matt Helliker / Jon Bracey British climbers Jon Bracey and Matt Helliker have succeeded on two new routes in the Ruth Gorge in Alaska.
"The Ruth Gorge is hugely impressive, there are massive walls of over 1000m and glaciers that snake their way over high passes. Everything a climber could need is here..." commented Helliker on his return from the range.
"From base-camp the huge east face of Mt Dickey looms above, then a view south looks over several major north faces - Mt Bradley, Mt Wake, Mt Johnson, Mt Grosvenor, Mt Church, it's an awesome site."
The pair started their trip with a new route on Mount Grosvenor on the 10th of May, now named Meltdown. The crux was a steep ice runnel leading to the summit ridge, where they encountered "a steep unprotected pitch of rotten ice and poor ignimbrite rock".
Meltdown - ED3, V, M6 R, 1300m was climbed in 12 hours (20 hours camp to camp) and Bracey and Helliker descended via the South Face.
The pair then climbed a new line on the north face of Mount Church leading to the east ridge. The crux of For Whom The Bell Tolls was a steep snow-filled chimney. Helliker also commented that "The final ridge proved to be far from easy with big cornices and steps of very unstable 'ignimbrite' again.".
For Whom The Bell Tolls - ED2, V, Grade 6 ice and mixed, 1150m was climbed in 10 hours (17 hours camp to camp).
Speaking to UKClimbing.com, Matt Helliker gave us the low-down on how to get to 'The Ruth':
"To get to the Ruth from the UK you fly to Anchorage, (best place for food and kit shops) then get a shuttle or train to Talkeetna. From Talkeetna you then need to get another flight into the range by small bush plane, I recommend TAT for this. A Sat phone is also useful if you're going to the more remote parts of the range just in case you need to call in the bush plane for a early pickup or jump.
The best time of year to climb in the range for ice and mixed action would be from mid April to the end of May, but you would have until the end of July if you were climbing the easier snow routes."
This expedition was supported by the BMC/UK Sport