On Belay | A Map of Lost Places: The Lacuna Glacier, Alaska Range

Posted on: February 26, 2015


The 4,100-foot east face of Mt. Laurens (10,040') in the West Fork of the Lacuna years later, Graham Zimmerman and Mark Allen returned to make the first ascent of this Glacier, as seen from the summit of Voyager Peak (aka: "Peak 12,213") in 2011. Two aspect. In these cirques, unclimbed peaks and face still abound. [Photo] Graham Zimmerman

A black speck contrasts with the white summit snow. Clouds build on the jagged peaks. The black speck evolves into a raven. It sits patiently, watching us approach.

It is April 2010 in the Ruth Gorge, and Mark Allen and I are moving through the final pitch of a three-day climb on the southeast face of Mt. Bradley. From the valley floor, a thin sliver of grey ice drew us upward. Steep rock spotted with lobes of ice took all our skill. Storms brewed heavy spindrift, forcing us to turn away from an easy couloir and onto a soaring buttress, compelling us to open our minds to whatever potential might lie ahead. Later, we would name the climb Vitalogy, after an 1899 text on the human form and a 1994 Pearl Jam album—a combination of physical power and mental rock and roll.

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