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Messner Couloir 


Type:  Ice, Alpine, 5000', Grade II
Original: AI2 Steep Snow [details]
FA: Messner 1979?
Season: Alaskan Summer
Page Views: 5,330
Submitted By: jhump on Sep 24, 2008

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14K camp early in the season showing the llama dro...

Register with the NP Mountaineering Headquarters in Talkeetna, AK before climbing in the park!


This enjoyable independent line makes a great alternative to the crowded West Buttress. Some consider this a variant to the West Butt, however, this line requires much more commitment. Trudge on up to camp 14-opolous and acclimate for a few days. The route climbs from 14K camp direct to the "football field" at 19K. The obvious hourglass shaped couloir is the route. I began by climbing toward the so called "West Rib Cutoff." This is the easy snow slope leading to the West Rib from 14K camp. When you get below the couloir, you begin to climb. The main obstacle I encountered was a series of bergshrund-like cracks. Fortunately, I was able to find small tongues of firm neve that allowed a solid, but steep passage across the shrunds. I believe I counted 7 such obstacles. Pulling these bulges with one tool required some finness. Under such conditions, two tools in overhead traction (swinging) position would have added much security. After pulling over these bulges on approx 70 degree neve, the angle would usually relent back to 45 degrees, until the next bulge was encountered.
Beyond the shrunds I found gentle snow slopes that steepened as I approached the narrow center of the hourglass. Deep and unstable snow greets you here. I heard some scary whoomps in the snow pack and opted to keep left near some slabby granite for security.
After the narrows, you enter a massive bowl that opens into the football field. A huge rock wall appears to bar travel above the bowl. I stayed left through this area on good, firm snow. The wind took me left, so I exited left. I believe many exits exist. Study of Washburn photos should reveal the possibilities.
You soon meet the West Buttress trail and can follow it to summit or descend.


Obvious hourglass shaped couloir imediately above 14K camp on the West Buttress. Route rejoins the West Buttress at the 19K "football field." Descend the West Buttress Route.


Crampons and 1 or 2 tools. I carried 1 tool and a ski pole. For those carrying a rope- many pickets and possibly some rock gear could allow running belays.

Photos of Messner Couloir Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Messner to the left and the Orient Express and Upp...
Messner to the left and the Orient Express and Upp...

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