Posted on: September 1, 2006

In April the Giri-Giri Boys—Tatsuro Yamada, Yuki Satoh, Fumitaka Ichimura and I—tried various lines around the Buckskin Glacier. Although Tatsuro Yamada and Yuki Satoh's two attempts failed to reach the summit of The Mooses Tooth (10,355'), their line on the east face looked appealing.

Fumitaka Ichimura on Pitch 6 of Before the Dawn (Alaska Grade 5: 5.9 WI4+ M6, 23 pitches, ca. 3,300') on the north face of Broken Tooth (9,050'). “Because of its comparatively stable and not-so-difficult rock and ice climbing,” noted his partner, Katsutaka Yokoyama, “I suppose our route has the possibility to become a classic.” Ichimura and Yokoyama also managed the probable fourth complete ascent of Deprivation, in seventy-two hours, descending via the West Ridge. [Photo] Katsutaka Yokoyama

After our own failed attempt on the east face of Bears Tooth (10,070') and two weeks of waiting for better weather and conditions, Fumitaka and I chose our next target: the north face of Broken Tooth (9,050'), not as distinguished as its neighbors, perhaps, but tasteful in its own way.

On April 26 we approached the first ice runnel, via corn snow, and began climbing at 5:30 a.m. The first pitch was the crux: drytooling a narrow crack (M6). We kept going up a left-hand runnel to escape from the main ice, which had become too exposed, thin and unstable. The wall's complexity made it difficult for us to find the correct line, so we linked up various weaknesses, including steep, thin ice or mixed (M5+ WI4+ R). At the snow slope, about two-thirds up the wall, two obvious chimney systems appeared to lead to the summit. We chose the right-hand one, and after one ice pitch in this chimney, traversed right to a snow band, where we dug out a ledge for our bivy.

The next day we went up a loose chimney (5.9) and traversed again to a right-hand ridge (M5). Some troublesome rock climbing covered with soft snow led us to a final ice field (70 degrees) and the summit at 1 p.m. On the way down we found so many places for natural anchors—rock horns or V-threads—that the rappels were relatively easy. Nineteen of them landed us on the Buckskin Glacier, thirty-eight hours after our departure. Because of its comparatively stable and not-so-difficult rock and ice climbing, our route, Before the Dawn (Alaska Grade 5: 5.9 WI4+ M6, 23 pitches, 1000m), could well become a classic.


Not done yet, we flew to the Kahiltna Glacier and completed Deprivation (Alaska Grade 6: ED+ 90 degrees, ca. 6,000', Backes-Twight, 1994) on the north buttress of Mt. Hunter (14,570') in seventy-two hours round-trip. We descended via the West Ridge; when a climber asked me why we'd picked that route over the usual north buttress rappels, I couldn't easily respond. At the time, we hadn't known that the West Ridge contained so many cornices, avalanche hazards and hard ice. But although the ridge exhausted us, its adventure contributed to our great satisfaction. Now I can answer, "Because it was part of the game."

— Katsutaka Yokoyama, Japan

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