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Taking advantage of a lean snowpack, this spring Dave Dornian and I
brought single-push tactics to the Logan Massif in Canada’s Yukon,
producing new technical alpine routes on the northeast face of Dak Peak
(approx. 3950m; a subpeak of Catenary Peak, 4100m), and on the north
face of Mt. McArthur (4300m).

Despite consistently bad weather (without a clear period of longer than
twenty hours) that contributed to rescues and a fatality on other parts
of Logan, on our third attempt, we made the first ascent of Dak Peak’s,
May 29-30, 2005, via Flowers For Blaise (1200m). This
fine route began up a narrow ice chute that drains the center of the
face and eventually exits to the right of the serac band fringing the
upper ridgeline. At a midnight brew stop in the middle of the face,
while we hunkered on a butt-sized rock horn, the stove tipped over. Two
liters of water poured down Dornian’s leg as the pot fell to the bottom
of the mountain. The next two hours were spent melting eight liters, two
tablespoons at a time, on the remaining pot lid.

Near sunrise the ubiquitous stormy weather moved in, so they took a
slightly shorter snow line weaving directly to the top of the face, to
the right of their intended ice gully. We then descended the northeast
ridge, postholed back to our skis at the base of the route and returned
to our tent twenty-seven hours after leaving. We named the route for the
flowers found growing from a crack just above the bergschrund and for
Dornian’s dog, which had passed away earlier in the spring.

Two days later a rising barometer lured us onto the striking line that
sweeps up the center of the previously unclimbed north face of Mt.
McArthur (4344m). Crossing the bergschrund at 8:30 a.m. on June 2, with
seventeen ice screws, we began simulclimbing the glass-hard,
spindrift-tempered ice. After stopping only once to stand and melt snow
to refill our hydration bladders, we continued through the night and the
next day. Consistently sixty degrees or steeper, the route required an
incredible 1850 vertical meters of brutal frontpointing with no more
than thirty meters anywhere on the face where we could actually put our
feet into snow.

Then, rising winds and plummeting temperatures turned the final
waterfall gully to the summit icefield into a torrent of spindrift that
required five more pitches of suffering to reach the final summit
pyramid. Even after more than ten trips to the St. Elias, Alaska and
Patagonia, I’d never seen clouds move so fast. We finally fought our way
out to the top of the face twenty-five hours after starting. With
visions of a four-day storm brewing, we headed down immediately, leaving
100 meters of easy snow climbing to the top. Descent through a serac
barrier and down the complex north ridge of McArthur in heavy snow and
whiteout conditions took a further thirteen hours. Dornian and I believe
Some Kind Of Monster is the longest ice climb in North America. The
climb required an estimated fifty sixty-meter ropelengths.

The McArthur/Catenary complex is to Mt. Logan what Mt. Hunter is to
Denali–directly above base camp, steeper and with less altitude
concerns–without the crowds and with endless new route possibilities.
There are your own monsters waiting.

Joe Josephson, Bozeman, Montana