2010 Mugs Stump Update: Success, Tragedy and Savage Peaks


Aartun, Haley Bag Impressive New Route On Foraker


Bjorn-Eivind Aartun and Colin Haley found success during a 37-day trip to the Central Alaska Range this spring. From June 13-15, the pair made a single-push ascent of a steep, unclimbed wall on Foraker's southeast face, one of the biggest virgin faces in the Central Alaska Range. Their new route, Dracula, includes difficulties of M6R AI4+ A0 and gains 10,400 vertical feet. Read the June 28, 2010 NewsWire for more information on the ascent.

The duo also attempted to break the 15-hour speed record on Denali's Cassin Ridge that was set by Mugs Stump in 1991. Slowed by deep snow, they summited in 17 hours.

Please see Alpinist 32, "Scared," for Haley's honest account of his struggles with fear and loss on Foraker's precipitous southeast face.

Storms Delay Success On Mooses Tooth For Another Year

Scott Adamson navigates steep snow slopes low on the east face of Alaska's Mooses Tooth (3150m). Adamson and partner Matt Tuttle attempted a new route on the sheer face last spring, with the help of the Mugs Stump grant. [Photo] Matt Tuttle

Last spring, Scott Adamson and Matt Tuttle journeyed to the Mooses Tooth Massif in the Alaska Range to climb a new route, in alpine style, on the east face of Mooses Tooth (3150m). The planned route entails almost 5,000' of steep mixed climbing.

Adamson's aspirations to climb the east face were born on a 2004 expedition to the massif in which he and partner James Stover climbed a new route on the Mooses Tooth's south face: Levitation and Hail Marys (V M7 WI6, 3400'). Disoriented by a "ripping" storm at the summit, Adamson and Stover rappelled down a full rope length and found themselves staring down at the wrong wall and the wrong glacier through a break in the storm. They had inadvertently descended the east face, putting the duo on the opposite side of the peak from their base camp. "Back at home I found myself thinking about that wrong turn and how grand and sheer that east face was," Adamson said. "I had to put a route up that thing... free."

Adamson and his brother, Tom, returned to the massif in 2008 and attempted the imagined route, which climbed the east face just right of Arctic Rage (VI WI6+ R A2, 4500', Mahoney-Gilmore, 2004). Halfway up the wall another storm settled in on the mountain. The duo bivied on a cramped ledge for 46 hours, while spindrift and debris washed over them. When the weather broke, they continued up the climb but bailed after reaching a 60-meter-thick band of rotten rock with an unavoidable roof covered in dry, sugary snow and no real ice to climb.

This year, Adamson and Tuttle arrived on the Buckskin Glacier to find the route in excellent condition, with a solid blue ribbon of ice streaking up the face. After establishing base camp and breaking trail across the glacier, the pair embarked on the second attempt. They traded skis for crampons at the bergschrund and quickly soloed and simul-climbed the first 570m of the route before starting to pitch out the terrain. Halfway up the face, a few non-threatening clouds they'd noted earlier in the day turned unexpectedly vicious. They were forced to venture off-route and dig a cave, where they spent the night. Though the snow had stopped falling during the night, heavy spindrift and suspicious-looking clouds convinced the climbers to abandon the attempt and descend.

Adamson and Tuttle with the Mooses Tooth behind. [Photo] Scott Adamson

Adamson and Tuttle returned to their objective four days later and made excellent time soloing and simul-climbing to their highpoint. They climbed through a variety of terrain—mixed snice, ice, snow and rock through overhangs and around tight corners—to reach Adamson's 2008 highpoint at around 750m. This time, the dry snow on the rotten granite overhang was replaced by hanging ice and verglass. The only protection, a slug horn that worked its way off as Adamson lead the steep, pumpy pitch.

"I remember being locked off, throwing for my next stick while the thin ice my foot was on kept skating," Adamson said. "When it finally caught on an edge my other tool stuck. I took a sigh of relief, looked down and my only gear had come out during the moves... [it was] definitely the hardest climbing either of us had done in the alpine world."

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