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FFA South Pillar of Main Tower, Mendenhall Towers
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Jul 14, 2011
Well I still have a week off and am still sore, bored and the weather has gone to shit so I figure I'll just spray away.

July 11th Gabe Hayden and I got likely the second ascent and first free ascent of the 1973 John Svenson/Mike Clark line on the South Pillar of Main Tower in the Mendenhall Towers.

We flew out the night before as the weather cracked open and Juneau saw it's first sunny day in nearly a month. All forecasts showed a pretty small window and I hadn't even worn shoes since early January so we decided to just go for one big climb.

We left early with a definite sense of urgency as we had no idea what to expect. The first couple of pitches fell quickly with a bit of simul-climbing through a couple of 5.8ish cruxes. As the buttress reared up the climbing became much more involved.

Rock Climbing Photo: Gabe on Pitch 3
Gabe on Pitch 3

Gabe on Pitch 3


Rock Climbing Photo: Ryan on crux 4th pitch
Ryan on crux 4th pitch

Ryan on Crux Pitch 4, 5.11a

We were blown away by how good the climbign was on the headwall. It was easilly the best granite I've climbed in the alpine.


Rock Climbing Photo: Gabe on the money pitch 5 5.10d
Gabe on the money pitch 5 5.10d

Gabe on the money pitch 5, 5.10d

Rock Climbing Photo: Ryan Following pitch 5
Ryan Following pitch 5

Ryan following pitch 5


Rock Climbing Photo: Gabe on pitch 7
Gabe on pitch 7

Gabe on pitch 7, 5.10


Rock Climbing Photo: Gabe on pitch 9
Gabe on pitch 9

Gabe on pitch 9, 5.9

Once on top of the main buttress we packed up the tag/haul line popped off the climbing shoes through on the approach shoes and simuled the rest of the way to the summit.

Rock Climbing Photo: Ryan high on route
Ryan high on route

Ryan high on the route


Rock Climbing Photo: Gabe on the summit
Gabe on the summit

Gabe on the summit

It was Gabe's first Alaskan summit and the top of any of the towers on this massif is a real treat. We descended mountaineers route down the West ridge into several gulley raps and were back in camp an hour before darkness fell. After reviewing our climb we realized that our line was nearly 2000ft long. The next day I was able to move just out of the tent into my camp chair were we day drank until our afternoon flight. It was a wonderful, one worth repeating. Thanks for the read.

Ryan Johnson
GR Johnson
Joined Jan 15, 2010
121 points
Jul 14, 2011
Rock Climbing Photo: Myself placing a a blue/yellow offset MC to protec...
Nice pics...thats some of the prettiest granite i've seen! Congrats on the ascent! rock_fencer
From Columbia, SC
Joined Dec 20, 2009
311 points
Jul 14, 2011
Rock Climbing Photo: lunch ledge
nice work! can't believe those beautiful cracks hadn't been climbed free...then I remembered that its Juneau ross.mon
From Montana
Joined Mar 24, 2010
176 points
Aug 22, 2012
Hey Ryan,

My name is Ben Gardner, I've met you a few times years ago when I worked at Foggy. I've been thinking about trying this route if another weather window arises and was wondering if you could give me some more beta about it. Thanks.
Ben Gardner
Joined Aug 22, 2012
0 points


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