Skip to content
Home » Climbing Notes » MT. BRADLEY, NORTH FACE


Maxime Turgeon working out the headwall moves on Pitch 8 of Spice Factory (WI5 M7 5.10 R, 1600m), north face of Mt. Bradley (2775m), Alaska Range, Alaska. Turgeon and Louis- Philippe M?nard climbed the route free, with no bolts, in alpine style, in fifty-five hours camp-to camp. Climbers reported warming temperatures wreaked havoc on most ice lines in the Range this year; Spice Factory was the season?s best tick. [Photo] Louis-Philippe Menard

When Maxime Turgeon and I first saw the north face of Mt. Bradley
(2775m), the weather was so warm we didn’t think we’d even be able to
get on it. The white line we’d spotted on some pictures was nowhere to
be found. But after a good warm-up on Johnson (The Escalator) and London
Tower (The Unfrozen World of Our Incertitude), and five days on the Ruth
Glacier, we brought the binoculars along and went back to look at the
north face with a little more optimism.

During our first attempt, we bailed two-thirds of the way up when a huge
rock fell on the leader’s pack, taking it 1000 meters down the face
(even though it had been clipped to a piece of pro). To our great
surprise, two days later we found the pack by rappelling into crevasses.
We didn’t think we’d get another chance, as the temps were just getting
warmer, but after a nighttime trip up Ham and Eggs (V 5.8 AI4, 850m,
Davies-Karkauer-Zinsser, 1975) on The Mooses Tooth (3156m) to improve
our spirits, we went back anyway.

While the first pitches had deteriorated a bit, the second half seemed
to be in better shape. We left camp on May 20 at 2:30 a.m., this time
bringing three days of food and fuel and a sleeping bag. After freeing
the pendulum traverse on the headwall crux and stretching the rope to
make fewer pitches, we managed to reach our former bivy site at an early
5 p.m. We brewed and slept for five hours, and the next morning cruised
to our previous high point at 10 a.m., freeing aid pitches as we went. A
couple of hours up a narrow ice runnel brought us to the summit seracs
and a total whiteout. After three more rope-stretching pitches on hard
serac ice, we had to stop. We couldn’t see more than ten meters ahead of
us–and we were soaking wet. The double-bivy sleeping-bag system that
had worked so well in our living rooms was not the best for weathering
storms or lying in snow. But three hours later, the sky cleared up a
bit, and we figured out where we were: only two 100-meter pitches
remained between us and the summit.

At 11 p.m. on May 21, we summited after forty-seven hours of intense
climbing. We called our route Spice Factory in reference to the
spiciness of certain pitches, namely the “Jalapeno Headwall,”
“The Hot + Spicy Ramp,” “The Pepper Grinder” and “The Curry
Mushroom.” We feel Spice Factory is Alaska Grade 5 (WI5 M7 5.10 R). We
climbed all 1600 meters free (the three aid pitches were freed on the
first try), with no bolts, in pure alpine style, in fifty-five hours

Louis-Philippe Menard, Montreal, Canada