THE FLAME

Posted on: December 1, 2002


Shipton Spire (Hainabrakk) and the Flame as seen from the summit of Hainabrakk East Tower with a summit of the Cats Ears Spire in the foreground. Routes shown are as follows. 1 The Khanadan Buttress (VI 5.11 C1, 1300m, McMahon-Wharton, 2002) 2 Inshallah (VI 5.12a A1, 1350m, Davis-Harvey-Shaw, 1998) 3 Baltese Falcon (VI 5.11 A4, 1350m, Boyd-Child-Foweraker, 1996) 4 Women and Chalk (VI 5.13b, 1150m, Bole-Cortese-Dandri, 2001) 5 Akelarre (VI 5.10d A4, 1150m, Eskibel-Larranaga-Ortiz, 2000) 6 Ship of Fools (VI 5.11 A2 WI6, 1300m, Ogden-Synnott, 1997) 7 Under Fire (IV 5.10+X A3 M5, 700m, McMahon-Wharton, 2002) [Photo] Josh Wharton

"The Flame" (ca. 20,700') is an alluring needle visible on the back cover of the 2001 American Alpine Journal. Brian McMahon and I made three unsuccessful trips up the Hainabrakk Glacier during the month of July to establish an advance base camp below the Flame's lower wall. These failed attempts were extremely frustrating, as the approach to advance base camp involved two highly dangerous icefalls and nearly 4,000 feet of elevation gain.

On August 2 we once again shouldered our packs and headed for ABC. After a fitful night of sleep we finally awoke to clear skies and a chance for some climbing. In an eighteen-hour tent-to-tent push, we managed the first ascent of the Flame via Under Fire (V 5.10+X A3 M5, ca. 2,300'). The route involved some difficult free climbing around wet and icy cracks, a wild mixed pitch, a tricky section of A3 hooks and beaks, and a 165 feet of completely unprotected 5.10 slab that guards the tiny pointed summit.

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Surprisingly, the streak of good weather continued, and after just one day of rest we headed to our second objective, Shipton Spire (19,700'). Over a period of two and a half days we climbed and descended Shipton's previously untouched south buttress with free climbing up to 5.11R, straightforward aid to C1, and some difficult snow groveling to gain the summit. In a drier year the 100 feet of aid climbing on the route would probably go free at easy 5.12. The Khanadan Buttress (VI 5.11 C1, 4,265') is named in honor of our close friends and family ("khanadan" means family in Urdu), particularly my father, whose help and support were invaluable.

— Josh Wharton, USA



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