THE CITADEL

Posted on: September 1, 2003


Krysztof Belczynski moving gently around the Devil on pitch 7 (C3) of the Last Cry of the Butterfly (VI 5.10+ A4 80degrees, 3700'). The Devil is a flake, shaped like its namesake, that is sure to ruin the psyche of any belayer stationed below. [Photo] David Kaszlikowski

Marcin Tomaszewski, Dawid Kaszlikowski and I were flown to the Shadows Glacier below the east face of The Citadel on April 18, where we set up a base camp. The next day we fixed a rope across the bergschrund to the base of the initial rock and snow slabs leading to the face. Over the next four days we fixed several ropes and committed to the wall. We climbed capsule style, establishing three portaledge camps over the next twelve days on the wall. Our line, Last Cry of the Butterfly (VI 5.10+ A4 80 degrees, 3,700'), takes the main prow of The Citadel's east face and begins just left of Off the Wall Madness (VI 5.11a A2, 3,000', McAleese-Turner, 2002), which is a direct start to the original East Buttress Route (VI 5.9 A3, Black-Embick-Graber-Long, 1976).

Disregarding weather conditions, we climbed without break until reaching The Citadel's summit on May 3. The day after summiting we were caught in a snowstorm, which forced a rest day. On May 5 we descended our route and returned to our destroyed base camp. By May 7 we were back in Talkeetna. As far as we know we were the fourth party to summit The Citadel. We were closely followed by the British team of Mike "Twid" Turner, Stu McAleese and Ollie Sanders, who climbed the snow/ice gully to our left and summited two hours after we did.

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The Last Cry offers a climbing Kama Sutra, starting with opening pitches of rock and snow (an alternative to a snow traverse) to access the main wall. On the wall itself, we found excellent aid, interspersed from time to time by loose and fragile features. Topping out on the initial East Buttress Spire required free climbing on slabs, cracks and small overhangs. On the alpine ridge to the summit we were haunted by arctic winds and snow. From the summit block we viewed the Shadows Glacier on one side and the big-wall paradise of the western Kichatna Mountains on the other.

— Krzysztof Belczynski, Szczecin, Poland



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