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[TR] The Moose's Tooth - Ham and Eggs 5/12/2008


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Trip: The Moose's Tooth - Ham and Eggs


Date: 5/12/2008


Trip Report:

TR: The Moose’s Tooth (Ham and Eggs)




The Alaska Range from the air




Jesus, not again. I sunk my tools, lowered my head, closed my eyes, and hung on. First a loud whoosh, then a chilling surf of spindrift, sifting through every fold, every opening, 10 seconds; still going, 20 seconds, abating a bit, then silence. I brushed a foot of fine powder from my head, shoulders, and arms. After 15 seconds or so, another loud whoosh from above. “Here it comes again!”


The snow and wind were steadily worsening, as were the spindrift avalanches. I brought Gene up. He turned to me.


“Getting schooled by Alaska.”


We topped out at the col after twelve pitches, and decided that gale force winds might not make for a very good ridge traverse to the summit. Both of us were climbing with everything we had on, including our puffies, and we were not warm.


Kevin and Andy, the only other party on the mountain, had gone on, but eventually turned around due to dangerous, unprotectable sublimated ice and extremely high winds. They put a few dents in my new helmet, but fortunately their aim wasn’t on that day.


So went day 1 in the Alaska Range.


We’d been rushed onto a flight into the Root Canal Glacier to slip through a closing weather window. While in Talkeetna we ran into some familiar faces, waiting for a hop into the Revelations.





Waiting for weather



The flight was like a phantasmagorical hallucination; more spectacular than my brain could possibly process. I dragged The Gretsky, a hockey bag I’d just acquired from the Anchorage Salvation Army, a whole hundred yards from the idling deHavilland beaver and began to set up camp. Rough approach, but that’s Alaska.





Beaver’s eye view (Kevin riding shotgun)





Moulons from the air



A video of our landing on the Root Canal Glacier:







The Gretsky has landed




Nice beaver





Kevin from Colorado, sponsored by Walmart: Cooler in one hand, poo can in the other.





Denali from the Root Canal Glacier



A panorama from our camp:








Our camp



At 3:00 am we woke up to a white out, and zipped ourselves back into our bags. At 7:30, the weather appeared to be clearing, with just enough clouds to keep the route cold.


Oh, it stayed cold all right.





Our route (from camp)





Gene enjoying a fine Alaskan spring day on route





Andy from Colorado savoring a refreshing spindrift shower on the overhanging crux. Gene had trouble dragging a large pair of balls over the lip, which required searching desperately for a solid stick in the sublimated mush while dancing on two crampon points fingernailed to vertical rock.





The view while descending





An evening panorama





Back at camp





Denali frontage





Looking down upon the Ruth Glacier Amphitheatre


Ham and Eggs was not in good shape; too late in the season. Shaken Not Stirred looked worse, with whole pitches bare of ice. Based on some favorable reports elsewhere, we opted to move house. After stomping out a fresh runway, and otter gathered us up, dropped our colleagues Andy and Kevin off in the Ruth Amphitheatre for their (successful) attempt on Peak 11300, and flew us to Denali base camp on the Kahiltna for our attempts of Minimoonflower on Mt. Hunter and the Southwest Ridge of Mt. Francis.






Gear Notes:

Big comfy tent, lots of clothes, Walmart cooler, and a can to poo in.


Approach Notes:

Brutal. At least 100 yards.

Edited by tvashtarkatena
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Inspiring as usual, Tvash! Your TR's would make an incredible coffee table book; the pics take you right in.


Forgive my ignorance here, but why do you need a cooler in that environment? Looks like the whole landscape is one big ice chest. Brrrr.

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Funny. We had nearly the exact same conditions on that thing two years ago (except it was in fat at the time-May). The photo of the crux couldn't have been more similar though as my buddy Tony struggled to sink a pin in between spindrift blastings.... Nice work. Heard a couple guys died up on SNS recently?

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If you're the party that sank the pin with the long black runner just below the crux, you deserve a big thanks from the rest of us. We incorrectly assumed that the snow ramps beteween each step would absorb some of the spindrift and ice chunks. Um...no. I haven't heard about an accident on SNS. Where did you hear about it?

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Naw, I cleaned the pin I think? Had to hang tough on one tool whacking at it for a while as the pummeling continued. Sure woulda been a nice freebie though! Joe Puryear mentioned the accident to me recently. Can't remember the details cause I was drunk. Maybe it wasn't even this year now that I think about it?

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Well, there's a fixed pin about 10 feet below the crux now, and that's a good thing.


The two Japanese hardmen who dissappeared on the Cassin were the only fatalities I've heard about so far this season in the range.


My photo doesn't really do those spindrift avalanches justice...I had to wait until this one was nearly over the catch the photo. They really suck the heat right out of your body.

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I was shooting video on that trip--we were getting blasted so hard I couldn't even dream of pulling the camera out! My partner was gripped enough already and didn't need any additional 'video slack'.... so I understand your predicament. All the other parties that day bailed and we were the only ones foolish enough to push on despite.... Conditions did get better thru the day but we got absolutely violated by the wind when we hit the ridge. No chance/reason to summit in those conditions. So twice now I've gotten turned back from the summit on that thing (put a foot thru a cornice on the German Route b/w first and second summit--saw all too much of the north face at that moment--and called it good). Double cornices the whole way across is nicht zehr guud.

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When we reached the col, our desire was gone with the wind, as they say. Continuing probably would have meant a quick case of hypothermia in my case. Gene didn't seem at risk of overheating, either. Furthermore, I should have had my overboots and mitts along with me in those conditions. Finally, we were concerned about the bottom slopes, which are less steep and thus more prone to becoming loaded, particularly after so many heavy spindrift avalanches. Towards the end of the day, we were getting a hit every five minutes or so, by successive waves that were meer seconds apart.


Oh well, the weather seemed so benign that morning...down low that is. It was my first climb in the Alaska Range; lesson learned. Kevin and Andy, a separate party from Colorado just ahead of us, pressed on for a bit, but reported horrendous conditions on the ridge, as well as very sketchy ice. The combination forced them back.


There were no regrets that day.

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