Burkett Needle - West Ridge "Smash and Grab" (FA)Date:
First Ascent of the west ridge of Burkett Needle on July 4th 2009. Dave Burdick and John Frieh: "Smash and Grab" 5.8 M4 IV.Burkett Needle courtesy of the great John Scurlock. The west ridge is the left hand skyline:Alternative view from north; west ridge is the right hand skyline:Itinerary
July 3: SEA -> Petersburg, AK -> Burkett boulder -> High camp
July 4: High camp -> west ridge -> summit -> rapped South Buttress Route -> high camp
July 5: High camp -> Burkett boulder -> PetersburgBurkett Needle climbing history to date:
1964 - North Buttress (5.6) - Layton Kor and Dan Davis. August 9th. (1st Ascent and 1st Free Ascent
1982 - attempt on the west side by Steve Monks and Damian Carroll. April/May
1995 - attempt on the South Face (V 5.9 A3 difficulty) - Joe Reichert, Gardner Heaton. March-April
1995 - South Pillar (V 5.10 A3+) - Greg Collum, Greg Foweraker, and Dan Cauthorn. May (2nd Ascent
1999 - Le Voyage des Clochards Celestes (VI 7a+ A3+, ca. 1200m) on the south-east face - Lionel Daudet, Stbastien Foissac. May 29th (3rd Ascent
2005 - attempt on the South Pillar by Carl and Bill. July
2006 - attempt on the South Pillar by Carl and Kale. July
2006 - attempt on the West Ridge by Dave Burdick and Micah Lambeth. July
2008 - South Pillar ascent to base of final 5.7 pitch by Zac and Nick
2009 - South Pillar ascent with a new three pitch free variation + 1 rappel
that rejoins the South Pillar route above the aid pitch (5.10+) - Jens Holsten & Max Hasson. June 10th (4th Ascent
2009 - West Ridge (IV 5.8 M4) - Dave Burdick, John Frieh. July 4th (5th Ascent
)Pictures and prose:
This trip was all Dave. Dave had the approach dialed from his last trip in 2006, stalked the daily NOAA updates and always immediatly called the both the chopper pilot Wally and local climbing guru Dieter Klose at the first sign of high pressure. It only took 3 years but he finally nailed a solid window
I wasnt expecting a second trip to Alaska this year but the phone rang the Tuesday prior and in a little over 48 hours later I was sorting gear in Dave's garage.
We were in Petersburg around 10:45 am on the 3rd... following a quick stop at the grocery story and lunch with Dieter we loaded up the chopper and a half hour later we were deposited at the Burkett boulder. We grabbed enough supplies for a few days, cached the rest and headed for a high camp on the ridge climbers left of the glacier.Drop point; Needle in the backgroundOne bag of chips or two? Approach stokeHigh camp. Radio tunes courtesy of a well positioned MSR windscreen
We left camp the following morning @ ~6:30 am and minus a few crevasses to avoid and an almost lost ice tool were @ the base of the ridge with out incident around 9:30 am or so.Fat kids make better post holesDave drafting; Devils Thumb in the backgroundCan you feel the stoke yet? At the base of the ridge
The ridge started with a mixed pitch before leading into clean granite. We changed into rock shoes and started simulingLet's get this party startedMore pleaseDave loving it... can you tell?
Following a nice simul block we encountered enough snow on the ridge to warrant changing back into boots (this becomes a theme)From hand jams to ice tools
A few mixed pitches took us to the top of the false summit. To be completely honest when I pulled over the top of the false summit I wasnt sure if the ridge was going to go. It looked hard... at least to this sucky climber.View from the false summit
We rapped in to the low point in between the false summit and the true summit for a better look... from below it didnt look as bad and Dave stepped up to give it a go We changed back into rock shoes yet again
It turned out the climbing was significantly easier that it appeared and Dave made quick work of the best pitch on the entire routeDave!
Dave was nice enough to let me have the next oneMy turnDave following
I brought us to the final snow summit where guess what! We changed shoes yet again Boots for the summit5th Ascent!
We rapped the south buttress route per Zac's recommendation and the suspicion Jens and Max had beefed up all the rap anchors.
Even though the rope got stuck 3 times this descent is the way to go IMO. We found the south buttress route topo was invaluable in assisting locate the next rap anchor.Hi jinxsRapping the golden slab
The highlight of the descent was rapping the severely overhanging A3+ aid roof pitch.Love the exposureDave's turn
We reached the base just after sunset. Speaking of...Done
A quick stroll back down the glacier brought us back to the tent and a late dinner.Headed home
The following morning we packed up and headed back down to the Burkett Boulder were we signaled Wally who promptly picked us up and whisked us back to Petersburg.Love the 3 day weekend!Shouting Out:
- Dave for putting this together. He made it happen!
- Dieter Klose for the beta, a place to dirt bag, rides and letting us browse his black book of climbs and history for the Stikine area.
- Emily for the airport service and tracking the spot Gear Notes:
1 tool per person
double rack to a #3 + 1 #4 c4
double set of nuts (one set was burned getting down)
50' of rap tat (used all of it + both our cordelettes)
Double set -> 1 camalot + 2, 3, and maybe a 4 c4
double set of nuts (keep one set in the bag for getting down)
lots of rap tat
tool per person
picket maybe??? better safe than sorry?Approach Notes:
Wally is the man