Difficult New Ground Climbed on Mooses Tooth

Posted on: May 14, 2008

The east face of the Mooses Tooth (3150m), Ruth Gorge, Alaska. Over a two day effort May 3-4, 2008, Matt Helliker and Jon Bracey pioneered a new line, There’s a Moose Loose Aboot this Hoose (ED4 M8 A2 AI6, 1400m), up the face that ended just 100m below the summit due to incredibly menacing seracs. The pair climbed the line in alpine style, with one sleepless bivy devoted to re-hydrating and replenishing themselves. [Photo] Courtesy Matt Helliker

Editor's Note:Jon Bracey and Matt Helliker recently returned from The Mooses Tooth on Alaska's Buckskin Glacier. Their ascent of the previously unclimbed (though attempted in 2006 by Christophe Dumarest and Aymeri Clouet) line on the east face fell ca. 100m shy of The Mooses Tooth's summit. As they reached the apex of the line to find dangerous overhanging seracs, the pair felt satisfied calling the new climb a "modern route".

Matt Helliker and I are back in Talkeetna after a brilliant trip on the Buckskin Glacier, Alaska. We climbed a new route on the amazing East face of the Mooses Tooth. There’s a Moose Loose aboot this Hoose climbs the obvious big fault line to the right of Arctic Rage (VI WI6+R A2, 4500', Mahoney-Gilmore, 2004)


I was initially inspired to check out the area after Paul Roderick’s (Talkeetna Air Taxi owner and infamous bush pilot) spectacular photo of the East face of Mooses Tooth in Alpinist magazine. We had intended to look at other objectives in the area but because of poor conditions turned our focus to the obvious fault line on the right hand side of the Mooses Tooth tried by Christophe Dumarest and Aymeri Clouet in 2006.

Setting off on the 3rd May in good weather we found excellent conditions enabling fast progress up the initial easy ground before the line narrowed into a series of steeper pitches on snow ice. By midday the weather had deteriorated and we suffered an alarming bombardment of constant spindrift for nearly two hours with Matt almost suffocating at one point. Thankfully this eventually eased allowing us to continue.

Helliker trying to find a route through to the upper gully. [Photo] Jon Bracey

Above the gully reared up into an overhanging amphitheater with spooky snow mushrooms hanging threateningly all around us. Some cunning route finding by Matt followed by a hard pitch of mixed and aid climbing saw me at the lip of the roof. After an eternity psyching up I eventually committed to the thin ice curtain above and somehow avoided a big lob into space.

The difficulties continued above with Matt pulling of a very hard and serious lead that thankfully found us a small snow patch out to the left to bivi on. Tired after an 18 hour day we brewed up for a couple of hours and sat in our sleeping bags for a bit before continuing.

The morning greeted us with ok weather and the crux of the route. A sustained overhanging pitch up less than perfect rock, which Matt dispatched in good style. After 3 more pitches we gained the upper snow slopes of the North ridge and stashed most of our kit to continue on. We were unfortunately stopped ca. 100m below the summit by a menacing serac. Happy with our efforts we started the long descent and made it back to our skis by 1 a.m. after another 18 hour day.

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This sounds like incredible climbing and looks like a sweet line! Unfortunately, it also sounds like an "attmept", although pretty damn close (100m) to actually doing a "route". Unlike what you may hear and read, summits still do matter. Nonetheless, a bad ass climb and a bold adventure.

2008-05-16 18:56:31
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