Type: Trad, Alpine, 1000 ft, 10 pitches, Grade IV
FA: unknown
Page Views: 7,324 total · 81/month
Shared By: Jared M Carlson on Aug 16, 2011
Admins: Jared LaVacque, L. Von Dommelheimer

You & This Route

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Leave crampons, ice axes and boots on snow near the bergschrund. Scout the schrund and MARK YOUR DESCENT SPOT WELL - you need to be able to see your mark from hundreds of feet up while you're trying to figure out your line on the descent - Leave something bright/large a couple of hundred feet out from the rock in line with your gear and exit point onto the snow so you can see it from far above.

Follow triangular snow patch on left side of 4th tower up to chossy gully, or solo up easy gold slab on right side of gully

Pitch 1 - 5.7 Belay from ledge at top of gully. Route starts on diagonal crack from right to left up face, and follows the obvious flake up to a belay in the blocks on the left at top of flake

Pitch 2 - 5.2 DON'T GO RIGHT. Climb left over blocks away from belay, and traverse/climb over easy terrain. Keeping going left longer than you think you should. If you're actually going up any corners or vertical faces, you've started up too soon. Head up easy slabs and face climbing.  (Note - If you choose to go right leaving the P1 belay, apparently there are some 5.7 - 5.8 route options that keep you more on the ridge proper, just be aware that on a past ascent by an experienced, trad-savvy leader, getting off route in this area resulted in a nasty pendulum fall that caused a fairly serious ankle injury.  Your mileage may vary)

Pitch 3 - 5.2 Stick to left of ridge, skirting the edge of the bowl to your left. Lots of options for easy lines

Pitch 4 - 5.6 Begin trending right, continuing up slightly more challenging terrain. Belay from blocky, slanting ledge on ridge proper

Pitch 5 - 5.6 Head slightly down and to the left of the main corner/roof uphill from belay ledge, continue up left side of ridge to a big ledge

Pitch 6 - 5.7 Continue up face slightly left of ridge, to an interesting and somewhat exposed traverse across a short flake. Downclimb left side of flake, and start up a corner with good feet and some fun tricky maneuvers. Belay above the roof/block

Pitch 7 - 5.4 Easy terrain up from corner, onto several successive enormous ledges. The 1st or 2nd are your best bets if you're planning on a bivy, they are palatial to say the least. Belay from lowest ledge

Pitch 8 - 5.8 This pitch is the business, and the best pitch on the route. Start from lowest of the three ledges up an easy, blocky pitch to next ledge. Good rope management on this pitch is critical, think before you place gear, the potential for heinous rope drag is extremely high. The most fun to be had on the route is following a shallow offwidth-ish crack on the right side of the face after 2nd ledge, then traversing out past the end of the ledge into some AWESOME exposure on the right side of the ridge, following easy climbing up into blocky terrain. Lots of holds and great feet, exposure makes it memorable. Trending to left of ridge is also an option, possibly a bit easier, and less exposed. But you're on an alpine trad climb, so why would you want less exposure?

Pitch 9 - 5.0/4th class? Head up easy terrain with lots of pro onto a big cruiser slab, belay from a slung block around backside of upper right hand corner of this slab. There are some 5.10-5.11ish cracks to be had on the big face to your right as you head up this slab, definitely worth a look as a spicier potential finish.

Pitch 10 - 5.1 Turn right around the backside of the ridge, following a loose blocky ramp up to the summit slabs. Enjoy the view of the icefield!

Descent - Rap down Pitches 10,9 and 8, trend into bowl at left slanting ledge. Lots of potential chockstones and horns to be slung. Have fun, stay far away from the ridge, farther out into the bowl has better rap lines, and there is a TON of potential for stuck ropes on and near ridge, with lots of shelves, cracks and gnarly rock fields for ropes to get tangled up in.


Route is located on south ridge of the 5th tower (Counting L to R) of the Mendenhall Towers Massif.  As per this picture, it looks like the 4th tower L to R, but there is a second small prominence called the Midget which is not really visible when viewed from Juneau and the Mendenhall approach.

Best Approach - via Heli - Landing Zone can be found within 100-200 yards of bottom of ridge.

Other option - LOOOONG slog up Mendenhall Glacier, starting at top of upper spur of West Glacier Trail, following the Mt. Mcginnis trail til it splits off toward Mendenhall Glacier on top of ridge. Use Google map satellite images to plot best route through icefalls/crevasses on glacier. Gnarly approach, allow at least a day to get to base of towers, 10+ miles of glacier routefinding


Full Rack of Camalots up to 4, double up on small sizes, full rack of nuts. Lots of webbing and/or cordage to leave on rappel. No bolts, rare fixed pieces here and there


Jared LaVacque
Anchorage/Grand Junction
Jared LaVacque   Anchorage/Grand Junction  
Great Description! Aug 18, 2011
Jason Nelson 1
Ouray, CO
Jason Nelson 1   Ouray, CO
The Solva actually on the Fifth Tower. It gets confusing because the Midget is likely the second tower which is not very prominent when viewed from Juneau. Sep 27, 2018