Type: Mixed, Ice, Snow, Alpine, Grade IV
FA: Peter Hollis & Renny Jackson - July 22, 1982
Page Views: 312 total · 29/month
Shared By: Vic Zeilman on Jul 8, 2018
Admins: Mike Snyder, Jake Dickerson, Taylor Spiegelberg

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Description

Alberich's Alley is a fairly elusive line and may be difficult to catch in prime condition during any given year. With that being said, it is well worth the effort. This exceptional ice and mixed climb is a steeper, more difficult, and arguably more classic finish to the infamous Black Ice Couloir, branching off from the main route near the West Face for a 600' independent finish to the Upper Saddle, which is more technical in nature.

Like many other Teton's ice routes, the difficulty of this route is highly dependent on a number of factors, including the time of the year, temperatures, recent precipitation, etc. The original rating given in the Ortenburger-Jackson guide is IV, AI4, 5.9 and may be more accurate for a "normal" season when the ice is leaner. On the 4th of July, 2018, this route was in incredible shape, providing ice throughout the majority of the climb, with the crux being on the second pitch, pulling around a chockstone-bulge on a thin ice slab (WI4- PG-13).

Overall, Alberich's Alley is highly recommended; but it also appears to be fairly heads up if the conditions are not favorable. Those who are interested in this major variation could examine the amount of ice on the lower pitch while ascending the Black Ice Couloir and decide whether or not to proceed.

Complete the Valhalla Traverse from the Lower Saddle. Traverse below the Enclosure Ice Couloir, past the High Route, Lowe Route, and Emotional Rescue, then ascend the first pitch of rock (or mixed rock and ice) leading into the Black Ice Couloir proper.  Blast up the first 800' or so of the Black Ice. At the prominent "bowl" feature below the BI crux, trend left to a pin anchor on the lefthand wall below the prominent left "fork" in the steeper terrain above; the lefthand fork is Alberich's Alley.

P1- A narrow ice runnel/chute leads past a few fixed pitons to a steeper bulge of ice (WI3+). Continue up the snowy and icy weakness to an obvious chockstone. Tunnel under the chockstone then stand on top of it and set up a belay.

P2 - Continue up the slab of ice covered rock above. The Ortenburger-Jackson guide states, "Continue up and slightly left on very steep ice and rock (5.9) toward the giant jammed chockstone. Climb from under this huge boulder on thin ice..." In 2018, this section was bomber WI3 terrain leading to a thin, cruxy section below the chockstone that protected okay with a stubby screw in stellar ice (WI3-4ish PG-13 for about 20 feet).  Above this crux continue up ice and snow toward another obvious chockstone-tunnel. Belay at the chockstone, or if you are wondering whether you'll be able to squeeze under that thing (as we were) then trend right to a belay stance up and right of the chockstone-tunnel. This belay seemed better anyway since you don't shell your belayer with ice and snow while leading the final pitch.

P3 - Traverse back left to regain the icy weakness above the chockstone. This involved a few rock climbing moves, M4ish kind of shenanigans. A mixture of ice, snow covered rock, and mixed terrain leads directly up to the flat ground of the Upper Saddle (approximately 100-200' up and left of the top out for the Black Ice Couloir). Belay at the exposed "boulder problem/downclimb" leading up the base of the OS rappels.

From the Upper Saddle, continue to the summit via any number of options, or if you've had your fill, descend back to the Lower Saddle.

Location

Approach via the Valhalla Traverse and begin on the Black Ice Couloir.

Protection

A handful of screws (mostly stubbies) and a single rack; possibly a few pins

Photos

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