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first ascent [TR] FA: Yukla Peak (6000' sub peak) Chugach Mtns

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Trip: Yukla Peak (6000' sub peak) - Chugach Mountains - Gank'd and Slay'd - 2800', V, WI6, M6, A2


Date: 2/10/2007


Trip Report:

John Kelley and I made the hike out to the Icicle Valley from the Eagle River Nature Center again last week in an effort to attempt another new route on Mount Yukla. The hike out there took us just under eight hours and involved a little bit of fourth-class terrain once we accessed the Icicle Drainage. We arrived at the boulder bivy site at about 12:30 at night and set up camp. The entire next day we relaxed and rested in preparation for our coming climb.


At 3:30 in the morning on Thursday, we were up and heading out to the base of our objective. After 700 feet of third-classing steep snow and grade-three ice, we reached the fork where the three routes split. Our original intent had been to go for the left trending ramp, but we decided upon reaching the fork to go for the ice line on the right, which had already seen several attempts by other parties.


Instead of starting on the ice at the base of the climb (which looked grade 3-ish from far away but looked very thin and unprotectable from up close), we decided to gain the route from a ramp just to the climber’s left of it. I led up the ramp, which was perfect styrofoam ice. The ramp ended in a 15-20 foot tall rock headwall. I attempted to get over it and was able to get most of the way up it (mostly 5.9ish laybacks), but was thwarted up high by down sloping rock and poor feet. After trying in vain for roughly an hour, I had John lower me and give it a go. He quickly got to my highpoint and decided it would have to be aided. He placed a few bird beaks (one of which blew out on him) and pitons and after about an hour was able to get through the crux moves. He followed the narrow chimney up to the rope’s end and set up a belay. He hauled the bags while I jugged up and cleaned.


Once I got up there, he gave me the rest of the rack and after sorting it, I was on my way, already on virgin ground. It was getting dark by this point, so we were definitely looking for a bivy spot. I led up a narrow snow chimney to a thin WI4 step. “Not so bad,” I thought. Upon getting to the top of the step, I saw I was in for quite a pitch. It had snowed just enough to make things annoying, and all the cracks and holds were covered. I scratched and picked my way up to the base of another snow filled rock chimney. I went right initially, and got about 10 feet up and couldn’t find any protection. The holds became nonexistent and I was facing a 20+ foot whipper into a shoulder wide chimney that would not end well. My last piece was a snarg hammered into some frozen veggies. I doubted it would hold.


I considered retreat, but decided that I needed to man up and go for it. Once I had my man pants on again, I down climbed 10 feet and went left. After a few desperate and dicey moves, I was up and over the technical crux of that pitch, which went at M6. I scratched my way up to a belay and spotted a good bivy site 20 feet below and to the right. 20 minutes later we were shoveling out a small, protected ledge for our first night on the wall.


After a cramped night on the small ledge, we brewed some water and were on our way again. John took the first pitch of the day over a sketchy dihedral to a right trending corner system, then up a slough gully to a rock outcrop where he set up a belay. I followed and on the way up, my tool popped off my harness while I jugged up. (Note: do not use those stupid Ice Clippers, they fucking suck) Luckily John had a third tool, so we were able to continue.


I took the next lead over a grade-three ice step and was sloughed on the entire time. After getting through that, I climbed steep snow to the base of a grade three ice pitch. I led up the ice without any difficulties and set up a belay for John. We were sure we were getting close to the top. At this point in time, we were racing the light. “This is probably it,” he said, in reference to the next pitch that he was going to lead.


With that, he took the rack and started up the ice, which appeared to be grade-five from the bottom. With almost no pro and long run outs, he got near the top and was faced with thin overhanging ice with unconsolidated snow above that. He placed two equalized screws and pumped himself up for the committing moves. “I guess I’ll just go for it, “ he said, and with a couple impressive moves he dominated his way up the crux ice pitch, which went at WI6 due to its thin condition and unprotected run out, all mixed together with the 15 foot overhanging section under a powder snow mushroom. John got to the top and let out a triumphant scream. “We must be near the top,” I thought. Once I got up there, I saw that we still had a few pitches to go. We traversed right over a snow slope that would be atrociously dangerous in different conditions and began digging a snow cave for our second bivy on the face. Although our bags were soaking wet and our food was low, we remained decently comfortable and kept ourselves entertained by spitting out songs and lyrics from NWA and Easy E.


We awoke in the morning and got going. The weather had finally turned in our favor and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Anxiously, we packed up, and John took the WI3 pitch, which we knew would put us close to the top. It was a rope stretcher, literally, and I had to lean forward just so John would have enough rope to reach a belay. The rope got caught on a rock and I had an interesting pendulum swing and drop when it popped off of the rock as I jugged up the rope and freed the packs that had been caught on an outcrop.


This pitch put us on top. We were very excited and packed everything up, then headed towards the 6000-foot sub peak of Yukla. We descended down the Northeast Ridge back down the Icicle Glacier to our camp at the boulder bivy. Tired, but determined, we left our camp at 5:30 and were back at the car by 10:30.


This was John’s third new route on Yukla within the past year (AAJ 2006) and my second attempt on the peak.


Our route Gank’d and Slay’d, went at 2,800’, V, M6, WI6 A2.







Gear Notes:

Full set of cams,


4 Lost Arrows, 4 Bugs, 4 Angles,

1-2 Snargs,



Don't use those stupid clippers on alpine routes unless you want to lose your tools

Edited by Clintoris

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The obvious line on the North Face is the N. Couloir. It is mostly steep snow with a pitch or two of ice. I believe it was first climbed by Richard Baranow. John has climbed it, but I have not. He would have better information on it.

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Our line takes the farthest most right trending ice line that breaks off from the fork in the second picture.

The 'deep slot' line is the route that John Kelley and Josh Varney completed last year. It's called the History of Things to come and was rated V, WI5, M7, A1.


Snow conditions were perfect up high. It was mostly styrofoam and rarely did we sink deeper than our ankles.

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Cool, when you posted your TR for the attempt at what later became 'the history of things to come' i was wondering when gank'd and slay'd would be climbed. Looks sweet! Sounds harder than it looks!

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Very nice boys Very nice. I grew up in eagle river valley about 8 miles from the visitor centre.

your TR brings back memories from the formative years of my climbing life.

Along time ago my partner at the time (now deceased) and i tried somewhat foolheartily to try to tag the west ridge but as we reached the headwall at the back of the ridge we quickly realized that in order to climb it the rock had to be frozen, it was so bad, just a huge rotting shitheap pyramid. Definately more than we were ready for at 17.

If you are ever in the area in early season, winter or spring you should give the south east face of Kiliak a try up to Nantina Pt, when we did it there was a pitch of AI4 and some scrappy 5.8 chokstone adventure. though later in winter it just becomes an amble up avalanche prone slopes, and later in summer it becomes a gully of supreme death, belching copious amounts of stone from on high.



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Why don't Seattle climbers climb here? It's 12hrs from Seattle to the base of the face. It would be nice to have more partners. Finding climbing partners = the crux of Alaskan climbing

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Visit Alaska Mountain Forum for misinformation, lies, and to hear Kelsey (site admin.) bitch about me not posting the above photos on his forum.

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