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Mt. Huntington

Alaska > Interior Alaska… > Denali National… > Ruth Gorge
Access Issue: Register with the NP Mountaineering Headquarters in Talkeetna, AK before climbing in the park! Details

Description

Mt. Huntington was named after Archer Milton Huntington, former President of the American Geographical Society, sponsor of an early expedition up the Northwest branch of the Ruth Glacier. Unlike McKinley, Foraker, and Hunter, the mountain is not visible from "the plains" (i.e. Talkeetna) and for this reason apparently has no native name (like Denali, Sultana, and Begguya). From the upper Ruth or Tokasitna Glaciers, it appears as an impressive fang of snow or granite.

One defining feature of Mt. Huntington is there is no easy route to or from the summit. In fact, this peak sports arguably the lowest summit percentage of any peak in the Alaska range. Many an expert ice climber has raced with ease up the lower portions of the Nettle-Quirk, only to be humbled by loose, unconsolidated snow on the upper portion of the peak.

Mt. Huntington was first climbed in 1964 by a team led by the legendary French alpinist Lionel Terray, and received its first winter ascent in 2007 by Jed Brown and Colin Haley. I estimate that fewer than 100 people have stood on the summit of Mt. Huntington. When Kelly Cordes and Scott DeCapio completed the first one-day ascent of the mountain in 1998, Cordes commented, "I now understand why so many people stop at, ahem, 'the end of the difficulties.' "

The rock on the west face of Mt. Huntington is generally excellent granite. The north face is primarily steep snow and is quite dangerous (it has only been climbed once). The south and east sides of the peak have mixed snow, ice and rock routes, generally longer than routes on the west face.

Mt. Huntington has graced the covers of many climbing magazines. The mountain was profiled in Alpinist #20 (Summer 2007).

Getting There

Fly to the Ruth or Tokasitna Glaciers. Most of the routes are better reached from the Tokasitna (upper or lower).

Further Reading

"The Mountain of My Fear" by David Roberts is the classic tale of the first ascent of the Harvard Route. Available from the publisher Mountaineers Books or from Amazon.com.

Lionel Terry's account of the first ascent is in the 1965 American Alpine Journal, you can download this for free. Search for "Huntington Lionel Terray" on the AAJ search page

Routes from Left to Right

WI4+ M4 Steep Snow PG13
 3
West Face Couloir
Trad, Mixed, Ice, Snow, Alpine 20 pitches
WI3 M6 C1 Steep Snow
 10
The Harvard Route
Aid, Mixed, Ice, Snow, Alpine 30 pitches
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
West Face Couloir
 3
WI4+ M4 Steep Snow PG13 Trad, Mixed, Ice, Snow, Alpine 20 pitches
The Harvard Route
 10
WI3 M6 C1 Steep Snow Aid, Mixed, Ice, Snow, Alpine 30 pitches

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Like a shark fin, the summit of Mt. Huntington pokes out of the clouds in this view from 19,000' on the South Buttress of Denali.
[Hide Photo] Like a shark fin, the summit of Mt. Huntington pokes out of the clouds in this view from 19,000' on the South Buttress of Denali.
View of the peak from camp. Yellow arrow points to the start of the Colton-Leach, which climbs the large gully behind the buttress. Red arrow is at the base of the West Face Couloir.
[Hide Photo] View of the peak from camp. Yellow arrow points to the start of the Colton-Leach, which climbs the large gully behind the buttress. Red arrow is at the base of the West Face Couloir.
Mt Huntington
[Hide Photo] Mt Huntington
A view from Harvard Rt. down Stegosaurus towards Mt. Hunter 1994.
[Hide Photo] A view from Harvard Rt. down Stegosaurus towards Mt. Hunter 1994.
N Face from Reality Ridge on Denali
[Hide Photo] N Face from Reality Ridge on Denali
finishing seconding the nose pitch on the Harvard Route
[Hide Photo] finishing seconding the nose pitch on the Harvard Route
French Ridge, cover of [[Climbing #129]]http://www.climbing.com
[Hide Photo] French Ridge, cover of Climbing #129
The west face of Mt. Huntington from the Upper Tokasitna.  The Harvard route ascends this wall on the right side of the photo to the sunlit shoulder.  The left (NW) ridge is the first ascent route.
[Hide Photo] The west face of Mt. Huntington from the Upper Tokasitna. The Harvard route ascends this wall on the right side of the photo to the sunlit shoulder. The left (NW) ridge is the first ascent route.
JB. high on the Harvard Route West Face of Huntington 1994.
[Hide Photo] JB. high on the Harvard Route West Face of Huntington 1994.
Doug Geeting landing on the Tokositna after days of heavy snow 1992.
[Hide Photo] Doug Geeting landing on the Tokositna after days of heavy snow 1992.
Mt Huntington and. the West Face
[Hide Photo] Mt Huntington and. the West Face
Jeff Burton following on The Harvard Rt. 1994.
[Hide Photo] Jeff Burton following on The Harvard Rt. 1994.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

CDC
[Hide Comment] David Roberts 1965 Harvard route ascent"The Mountain of my Fear" should be included in the History of this peak! Feb 6, 2014
Hanson Smith
Boulder, CO