In and Out on Huntington

Posted on: March 25, 2011

Jason Stuckey near the top of the Couloir on the second winter ascent of Mt. Huntington. John Frieh and Jason Stuckey blitzed the route up and down in just under 24 hours. (Though still slower than Jed Brown and Colin Haley's 15 hour speed ascent in the winter of 2007. ) [Photo] John Frieh

In a 23 hour push starting early March 19, Jason Stuckey and John Frieh made the second winter ascent of Mt Huntington in the Alaska Range (12,240'). The pair arrived on the Tokositna Glacier on March 18, and climbed the West Face Couloir (Nettle-Quirk: V 85 degrees, 3,250'). They returned to camp by 5am on the 20th, and were picked up four hours later. All told the pair spent less than 48 hours in the range. "Smash and Grab."

The first winter ascent of Huntington was performed on March 12, 2007 in a 15 hour (up and down) sprint by Colin Haley and Jed Brown (link). John Frieh has had Huntington on his radar for quite some time, and was inspired by their climb. For four years he kept his eyes on the weather in late winter, immediately soliciting opinions from friends if a window appeared to open. It was only a month before the climb that by chance Frieh met with Stuckey, a resident of Fairbanks, at the Anchorage Airport. Their trip was Stuckey's first to the Alaska Range.


Frieh described the ascent as "fairly tame." Weather was excellent, and the overall condition of the route left little to complain about. According to Frieh, the climb went slower than they would have liked due to the route being almost entirely covered in glacial ice. The approach slabs, usually snow and neve, were much thinner than usual. The ice was hard, and after the climb the picks on Frieh's ice tools looked "to have the sharpness of a butter knife."

With their ascent in 2007, Haley and Brown showed Frieh that "you actually don't have to sit on the Tok [glacier] for weeks shoveling snow [and] eating pancakes."

A number of people made their ascent possible. Frieh believes beer is owed to Stuckey, who agreed to climb with a near stranger, Mark Westman and Paul Roderick for providing opinions on the weather and Brown and Haley for their ascent and beta. If you happen to around these guys do them the favor for Frieh.

For more information see Frieh's trip report on See the Mountain Profile in Alpinist 20 for the history of Mt. Huntington.

Source John Frieh

Jason Stuckey below Frieh. [Photo] John Frieh

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Why doesn't anyone ever report winter ascents from Joshua Tree?

2011-04-17 22:39:04
Roger Strong

John (whom I know very well) and Jason (whom I have yet to meet), super congrads on what looked like a great adventure on a beautiful, iconic peak I’ve yet to try…John, you fucker, you are so ridiculously humble and quiet that I didn’t have a clue you were going to pull the trigger this year on one of your dreams until you got back! Dylan and I will miss you big time on our trip at the end of the month. I’m still trying to figure out how to give your boss ‘The Bering Sea Shuffle’ without going to jail!!!!

Please excuse this next paragraph if you have a weak stomach or continue to use your pseudo name.

This is a shout out to anyone (or no one yet) that posts on here and every other forum/site in the entire blogosphere/interweb…..If you’re really out there getting ‘trad’ 24-7, how the fuck do you have all this time for armchair opinions but don’t have the balls/vagina to use your real name? Does this really line up with YOUR traditional ethics? Hiding behind a fucking pseudo name? Hating on someone else’s adventure that they CHOOSE to share with the very website that you CHOOSE to be a part of?


2011-04-14 23:03:48

Ak Iceman I see no irony in the fact that winter ascents used to get kudoos because winter conditions can make climbing certain peaks more difficult and skiing in and out made it impossible to choose ones weather.

Where today, with the "smash and grab sat phone, fly in, fly out mentality over a weekend" folks wait for summer conditions, before flying in to make a winter ascent.

I'm not saying, folks haven't gotten smarter, nor that I wish that I hadn't (had? past tense verbage?) also.

I am saying, in my onion (peeled, sliced or diced, but never deep fried), that a winter ascent done during a known window of summer conditions is not. ——- What do you call a Fairbanks climber who loses his girlfriend?


2011-04-08 21:50:50

Ah the global warming argument boars its gorish head.

Me, I don't climb in winter. To cold.

What did the Fairbanks mother say to her climber son when he was going out on a date?

"If you are not in bed by 10 come home."

2011-04-08 04:47:04

I ended up skipping a lot of the blather, but just in case I missed it, what all did you guys climb this "winter"?

2011-04-07 23:35:00

chewtoy: the irony of your McGinnis allusion is that Climbing Mag sold it as a first winter ascent. But that was a long time ago... back when early March was still winter.

2011-04-06 03:23:22

@ Schooner

Chapeau for the one liner "fast food alpinism" that one rocks!

2011-04-01 20:55:29

Funny you should mention that, I recently heard a story about an alleged double quarter pounder bail off Peak 92dikwad...

2011-03-31 11:00:38

Modern alpine climbing is deader than the veggie burger I ate yesterday while driving my biodiesel car. There is my two kronor. But climbing is still fun. Climbing minus spray and photos and alpinist newswire and climbing mag and blah blah.....that is noteworthy. Now its just a bunch of people who want to be popular and do not want to work.

As for the winter ascent arguement. March 19th is not a winter ascent in AK. But who really cares. It looked like a fun climb and they did it in modern style using as much diesel and fuel and dead animals and resources as possible.

As for honeybucket, the dude you are dissing is one of alaskas walk in from the road and do it up in the winter or whatever season OGs. All the Prius driving organics could learn a bit about this traditional ethic. Especially in a day when its all about smash and grab. What are they smashing? More resources? What are they grabbing? Another piece of fast food alpinism.

2011-03-30 06:13:51

Now don't start on the 'your mom' jokes....

2011-03-28 10:01:16
db ooper

The Eiger for sure is easier and safer in the winter.

2011-03-28 09:52:30

so if a route is easier in winter or only possible in winter, say the cut throat on mcginnis. 5.4b if I recall what the aaj said, should it get facebooked for being a winter ascent? Or would a summer ascent, which would be far more difficult, be the facebookie ascent?


As my mom used to say, "Fairbanks alpinists don't drink, because it dulls the suffering."

2011-03-28 08:12:03

... I meant alibi. chewtoy is the alias without an alibi.

2011-03-28 07:21:44

I've always been amused at how the core FBX scene is so quick to rant when a climb gets posted or "facebooked". Yet those same core dudes continue to spend their sober hours writing lengthy AAJ reports about mank routes that are so ethereal they can't even rate them. Congratulations Stuckey. If nothing else at least you had an alias while the Cox shit was going down.

2011-03-28 06:56:19

e9, The reason the Alaskan Alpine Club winter climb grant has to be done by the 28th of febuary, is not because of temperature. It is always cold up here and always warm. It is all about the number of day light hrs.

that said, much funner to climb than to rant

2011-03-27 13:36:08

There is clear winter dates that define a winter ascent in order to avoid rants like this. Some time February is warmer than end of March and some times its the other way around at least thats how it works in the Alps.

This looks like a well executed climb I lift my hat!

2011-03-26 21:10:29

oh and am yes I am very bad ass for having an outhouse....

sore ass to after the blue foam cracked and my tosh froze to the seat.

2011-03-25 07:35:17

I too concur that is great that jason had fun.

I just wonder why everything has to be so "important."

2nd 1st winter ascent of the poopsicle in my outhouse. Now that would be blogerific for sure.

-we deserve that gunderment assitance for sending palin yourway. Only reason Obama got elected twice. go Palin and Cox 2013

2011-03-25 07:32:12

Funny stuff. Since even what someone ate for dinner is facebookable these days, I can't really doubt the facebookability of this climb. Kelly's thoughts while staring into his navel are pretty applicable in this situation, but mostly I am just psyched for Stuckey to get another climb under his belt. We need more local alpinists getting things done up here in AK. I guess it would be nice to hear what Schooner has to say :).

2011-03-25 06:31:14

"..winter ascents have to occur during the dark of winter to be counted."

Counted? Who's counting? Is there a prize? Who appointed the judges?

Climbing for the validation and kudos of Facebook is no better or worse than climbing for the validation and kudos from a bunch of hairy misfits in a dark cabin outside Fairbanks. Just another form of the same thing.

The medium may be different, but the motive is the same. "Look at me, I'm badass. Please like me."

Self-imposed hardship and deliberate discomfort to impress people we don't know may have been the foundation of hard alpinism and polar exploration, but in this day and age, though not without value, it has its limitations. Mostly it's just posing.

As for dates and rules, if Alaskans don't like the gub'mint decisions on winter they should make a stand and reject the gub'mint decision on giving them free money every year, eh?

Always enjoy your posts, Chewtoy ...

2011-03-25 06:22:44


Question my resume?

That is the best you can do? That didn’t take long for such classic ad hoc arguments.

—- So Honey Bucket (I can play 4th grader also) you feel that the Alaska ethic, whereas winter ascents have to occur during the dark of winter to be counted is lame?

Why? I thought local standards was an important part of the alpinist motif.

Honey, you seem to differ. Please explain yourself like an adult.

2011-03-25 04:57:30

Hey chewtoy-

Why the hate? If this ascent is such an easy climb during the warm month of March, why aren't we all reading about your ascents? Maybe spending too much time on a climate-controlled indoor climbing wall sporting a wicked hot miniskirt? Like you said, these guys went to Huntington to have fun. They obviously did. If/When you successfully ascend a notable peak at -40F and word gets around about it, no doubt the climbing community will send you suitable congratulations as well. Until then your rambling rant smacks of a little jealously or misplaced elitism... or both.

HoneyBadger don't give a $hit.

2011-03-25 02:36:34

The rant or the climb?

2011-03-25 00:01:17

Nice job. Great read!

2011-03-24 23:53:03

I know we live these days in the times of Charlie Sheen, when your "winning" even when you are losing, but I still scratch my head at the facebook climbing generation. The everything we do has to be more than justfun, it has to also be important, significant, facebook worthy.


Winter in Alaska is not a date. If they climbed the route on March 20th and it was 40 below would that not be a winter ascent? But warm weather on March 19th is?

12 hours of sunlight either way is not what Alaska winter is about. In Fairbanks, the local Alpine club has a winter climbing grant. The climb has to be done by February 28th, because everyone knows late winter ain’t winter. Though folks in Alaska shouldn’t wear mini skirts in March, to much hair, folds, sags, and blotchy skin for even Ruben’s taste, they do. The reason for the dress code, no matter how disturbing, is because it is warm, even when it is cold, because of the blazing sun in March.

end of rant: This does not take away from the fact the climb looked fun and enjoyable. That I gather is facebookable alone without the 2nd 1st late winter ascent of a route that has been climbed over a 100 times tagline.

2011-03-24 23:48:17
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