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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 cascadeclimbers.com. See the Mountain Profile in Alpinist 20 for the history of Mt. Huntington.
Source John Frieh
Jason Stuckey below Frieh. [Photo] John Frieh