Simon Hitchens and Phil Jefferey following Mike “Twid” Turner up Cool Couloir (D: Scottish V, 15 Pitches, 800m), one of three gully climbs they established this April in the Kichatna Spires, Alaska. This ascent of Cool Couloir was probably the spire’s first ascent as well; as a tribute to home, the U.K. trio named it Welshman’s Peak. [Photo] Mike “Twid” Turner / Courtesy of www.sheersummits.com
Simon Hitchens, Phil Jefferey and Mike “Twid” Turner of the U.K. flew to the Tatina Glacier in April to uncover virgin gullies in the north Kichatna Spires. They climbed three new lines in the seldom-visited range, which slowly is gaining recognition for its untold rock and ice potential. “Most of the main peaks had been climbed in the past, but not many folk had climbed early in the season and made ascents of the many couloirs slotted between the huge granite walls,” Turner said. This recent adventure was his fifth trip to the Spires (read Turner’s Climbing Note in Issue 9 about his third trip in 2004), which he compares to a vacant Patagonia with “masses of 800-meter unclimbed, amazing rock walls and buttresses.”
The trio’s first success was Bish Bash Bosh (ED: Scottish VII E1, 19 pitches, 900m), a steep ramp of snow that led Hitchens and Turner to “interesting ground up a vertical gully, at times a foot wide and over two chock stones,” which required M7 moves, Turner said. Avoiding avalanches, the pair completed the route in nineteen hours round-trip.
Jeffrey joined them for the next route, Cool Couloir (D: Scottish V, 15 Pitches, 800m), which ascends a spire that the group believes to be unclimbed. They named it Welshman’s Peak, moved up-glacier, and rounded off the trip with The Whack and Dangle Sculpture (D: Scottish V, 14 pitches, 1000m), a half “well-defined couloir” and half “hidden gully” between Tatina Spire and Point 7,890′.
Turner’s excitement about the potential in the Kichatna Range has not waned, even after five trips in six years. He plans to return to the area again next April.