Skip to content
Home » NewsWire » New Ice Routes in Southeast Alaska

New Ice Routes in Southeast Alaska

Ryan Johnson on Tide Line (WI5, 420m), one of two new ice routes that Ryan and his partners established in Southeast Alaska this March. [Photo] Jason Nelson

In early March, Ryan Johnson, Tim Banfield, Jason Nelson, James Q Martin, Tom Lanagan, Alex Pedneault, and Sam Johnson established two long ice routes in Southeast Alaska. Both lines were over 300m and at least WI5.

Tide Line ascends the obvious flow in the photograph. [Photo] Tim Banfield [Photo] Ryan Johnson

Tide Line (WI6, 420m), the team’s first route, was established in Tracy Arm over the first week of March. On March 1, R. Johnson, Banfield, Nelson, Martin, Lanagan, and Pedneault departed Juneau for Tracy Arm, a roadless fjord forty-five miles to the south, aboard the boat, Alaska Quest with Tom Satre and his soon-to-be daughter-in-law Tamantha. To start the trip, the group encountered typical March weather in Southeast Alaska: rain. When the the clouds finally cleared they spied a huge wall at the end of the fjord. Gaining the base of the wall required 1500 feet of rainforest bushwhacking. After this first scouting day, the group stashed their packs and hustled back to the water for their pickup. The next day they were hampered by a late start and more difficult than expected climbing. After only a few hundred feet they bailed, arriving at shore in complete darkness with heavy snowfall and a surf of whitecaps. After a rest day and more poor weather, Johnson, Nelson, and Lanagan went back to finish the climb. This time the group topped out at dusk, with the crux of the climb in the final 100m. They dubbed the route Tide Line.

Dealing with the poor weather and rough seas, “it felt like a lot more of an expedition than a cragging trip,” said Ryan Johnson. They joked, “that at least when the ice got steep it stayed rotten.”

Bathtime with Toaster. Insert Cylon reference here. [Photo] Sam Johnson

The second route, Bathtime with Toaster (WI5, 340m) in the Suicide Bowl of the Mendenhall Glacier, was done by R. Johnson, Banfield, and Sam Johnson. Upon return to Juneau, there was a significant change to the group. S. Johnson came down from Fairbanks to join R. Johnson and Banfield after the others left. From the trailhead, they hiked the six or seven miles up the Mendenhall Glacier to the Suicide Bowl. There they chose the most direct line up the large and very steep west wall. Bathtime with Toaster consists of five pitches and was done in six hours round trip. Despite the continued bad weather S. Johnson summed up the experience, “We had a great time and also got a little climbing in.”

Sources: Ryan Johnson, Samuel Johnson

Tim Banfield on the first ascent of Bathtime with Toaster. [Photo] Sam Johnson