FFA South Pillar of Main Tower, Mendenhall Towers


Original Post
GR Johnson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2010 · Points: 115

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.

Gabe on Pitch 3
Gabe on Pitch 3

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.

Gabe on the money pitch 5 5.10d
Gabe on the money pitch 5, 5.10d

Ryan Following pitch 5
Ryan following pitch 5

Gabe on pitch 7
Gabe on pitch 7, 5.10

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.

Ryan high on route
Ryan high on the route

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

rock-fencer · · Columbia, SC · Joined Dec 2009 · Points: 265

Nice pics...thats some of the prettiest granite i've seen! Congrats on the ascent!

ross.mon · · Montana · Joined Mar 2010 · Points: 165

nice work! can't believe those beautiful cracks hadn't been climbed free...then I remembered that its Juneau

Ben Gardner · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 0

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.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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