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Slovenians Overcome Difficulties in Ruth Gorge
Posted on: May 7, 2008
Tomaz Jakofcic and Tina Di Batista's line up Season of the Sun (V WI5+ M6+, 1500m), on the southeast face of Mt. Bradley (9,100’), Ruth Gorge, Alaska Range, Alaska. The Slovenians encountered far different conditions than expected, forcing them to take a number of minor variations to the line. [Photo] Tomaz Jakofcic
Fellow Slovenian Tina Di Batista and I went climbing in the Alaska Range's Ruth Gorge this April. We came in on April 7 and were rather disappointed with the poor conditions: lots of snow and no ice. But while we waited for the snow conditions to improve, on April 13 we climbed Ham and Eggs (V 5.8 AI4, 850m, Davies-Krakauer-Zinsser, 1975) on Mooses Tooth. Five days later we made the probable second ascent of Freezy Nuts in London Tower, a Manu Pelissier and Manu Guy route from 1996. They graded it TD+, 95 degrees, 800m, but now we found the route much easier—more like grade 3 ice climbing. Many parties after us climbed the line, which covers excellent, moderate terrain. The route could become the most popular in the Gorge, as a quick party can climb it in a half-day round-trip.
Finally, on April 22, we went for something bigger: Season of the Sun, on the southeast face of Mt. Bradley (9,100'), established exactly one year before by Fumitaka Ichimura, Yusuke Sato and Tatsuro Yamada (read the May 18, 2007 NewsWire for more information).
Jakofcic starts up the beginning of the central gully on Season of the Sun. Three Japanese Giri-Giri Boys, Fumitaka Ichimura, Yusuke Sato and Tatsuro Yamada, established the climb exactly a year before in surprisingly different conditions. [Photo] Tina Di Batista
We thought the route was more or less clean of fresh snow, but we were wrong: in the upper gully we were hit by wet avalanches twice.
The first hard pitch, an M6 dihedral the Japanese climbers fixed last year, was now covered with thin ice, which made the climbing easier. But higher up conditions were much worse, and some of the snow gullies on our topo turned out to be difficult pitches. A lack of ice on the original line forced us to climb many short variations, especially at the last steep part. There, the original route followed an offwidth choked with ice, but—it being filled with snow—we climbed a dihedral to the left that ended up being the crux (M6+). Originally the 1500-meter route was graded V WI4R M6R; our variations resulted in some harder terrain: WI5+ and M6+.
We climbed the route alpine style in sixteen hours to the summit. Reaching the top, because of the extremely dangerous conditions we encountered on-route, was a massive relief. We bivouacked on the descent, one hour below the summit, then spent six hours the next day descending the southwest ridge to the col betwen Bradley and Wake.
Relief! Di Batista on the summit of Bradley, successfully having climbed alpine style up Season of the Sun in sixteen hours with Jakofcic. They bivied then descended the next day via the southwest ridge. [Photo] Tomaz Jakofcic