British climbers Greg Boswell and Will Sim have established two new lines above the Buckskin Glacier in the Central Alaska Range, named Beastiality and Shark Fishing. We have had limited email contact with the team, but some details have emerged. Beastiality is 30 pitches/1400m in length and is situated on the South East face of the Bear Tooth. According to a rough topo drawn by Greg, the route is of five star quality and features dry, ice and mixed climbing up a chimney system.
I've seen more blue skies in the last three weeks than in my past three Alaskan trips put together. This kind of karma could come back to bite us, but right now @gregbozza and myself are just happy with our two lines above the Buckskin glacier. In this photo Greg is on one of about 30 incredible pitches on our route "Beastiality" on the Beartooth, which we climbed and descended over 4 days of Alaskan perfection. @scarpauk @outdoorresearch
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The pair planned to be out there for one month and were fortunate to encounter stable weather in the area. This was Will's fourth trip to Alaska - where he made a first ascent on Mt Deborah alongside Jon Griffith in 2015 - and Greg's first. Two friends, Lindsay Yule and Paul Prentice were also part of their team. Will told UKC:
'We shared a basecamp but climbed on different objectives, making for a sociable and safe feel.'
We sent Will and Greg some questions about their stunning new routes...
Did you scope out potential lines beforehand, or head out and see what you could find?
Will: I have a fairly long list of unclimbed stuff I'm inspired by in the Central Alaska range, some of which I have heard about from friends, some of which I have seen or tried on past trips. In the case of the line on the Bear Tooth - eventually becoming Beastiality - it had been eyed up by a few teams over the last 10 years, and I had heard about it on the "grapevine" and seen an inspiring photo from a plane. As for Shark Fishing, this was a spur of the moment route, which we had had a great view of from our bivis on Beastiality and just had to try because it looked too cool!
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What were conditions like during the trip?
Very generally speaking, it's quite a low ice year for Alaska, but for most big mountain objectives that doesn't really matter. What did matter was that we had unbelievably stable, high pressure weather conditions for the entire trip. I can't express enough just how big a difference this makes. The best way I can is to say that sometimes mountains are kind and let you climb them!
Tell us about Beastiality.
Beastiality is about 1400 metres long. We climbed about 30 pitches, and soloed and moved together a fair bit on easy parts. The line is based around a huge chimney system which carves a clean fault up the SE face of the mountain.
A complication with this line is that it's guarded by a very unfriendly and dangerous looking icefall just to get to the bottom of the fault line. To bypass this, we climbed a cool couloir to the left for a few hundred metres then traversed through the icefall in its safest place.
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Once in the fault line we tried to follow it as much as we could, but were forced onto the right wall by rotten rock in a couple of places. It was very touch and go on day two as to whether it was going to work; we got dead ended twice and had to make a small abseil to find an alternative route. It was stressful, time consuming route finding and minutes before darkness we managed to find a way through a compact, scary slab section, fix a rope and lower down to the only ledge in site for an uncomfortable night.
I can honestly say some of the climbing was the highest quality I've ever done on a big mountain. We spent day four descending the route, mainly on v threads, in a "Did we really just do that?" kind of haze.
More information to follow...
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