Mausolus First Ascent

Posted on: April 7, 2011

Approximate routeline of "Mausoleum" which Helander and Vincik climbed over 40 hours. It was the first ascent of Mt. Mausolus. [Photo] Clint Helander

Anchorage local Clint Helander and his partner Scotty Vincik took advantage of near perfect late winter conditions to claim the first ascent of Mt. Mausolus (9,170') in Alaska's Revelation Mountains. Located in the southwest corner of the Alaska Range, the Revelations are a somewhat obscure pocket of steep granite peaks. Helander first heard of the Revelations in 2006 and had been dreaming of them ever since.

Vincik leading on the ribbon of ice. [Photo] Clint Helander


In 2007, after receiving the American Alpine Club's Mountain Fellowship Grant, Helander and long time climbing partner Seth Holden set their sights on the steep, unclimbed west face of Mt. Mausolus. Repeated trips to the Revelations over the course of the next two years led to other first ascents in the range but attempts to even reach the base of Mausolus remained unsuccessful. In 2010, aware that the season was too warm for good climbing conditions, the pair reconnoitered the first 2,000 feet of the route in anticipation of coming back the following season to complete their now four-year goal of reaching the summit.

Unfortunately, in August of 2010 Seth Holden was killed in a place crash, making it the last time the pair would attempt Mausolus together. With the fear that more climbers were starting to focus on the Revelations and Mt. Mausolus in particular, Helander returned with Scotty Vincik on March 15 of this year, carrying the ashes of his friend. Unlike the previous winter, a month of high pressure systems described by Helander as "a skier's nightmare and an alpine climber's dream" gave the pair very little snow and an almost continuous ribbon of ice down the west face. Packing three days of food, sleeping bags, a double set of cams and a limited number of ice screws the pair took advantage of the pristine conditions and used the first day to move through perfect WI4 and WI5 climbing to a precarious bivy. Safe from rockfall though anything but comfortable, the pair spent the night roughly 1,200 feet from their goal. The next day they tackled long runout pitches of steep WI5 climbing which gradually eased into less difficult terrain above and finished with a 400-f00t, unprotected simul-climb up steep snow to the summit just as the light began to fade.

After taking a moment to scatter the ashes of the friend who had started this four-year dream, Helander and Vincik rappelled down to the previous night's bivy to retrieve their sleeping bags and other gear. Continuing down the mountain in the dark, they finally reached a snow cave to complete their nearly 40-hour push. Helander and Holden had previously discussed naming the route "The Mausoleum," should they ever reach the summit. With Holden's ashes spread across the summit, it gave new meaning to the name.

Mausolus with the route climbed by Helander and Vincik just visible. [Photo] Cliff Cochran

Source: Clint Helander

Helander's photos from the climb may be viewed here.

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I've walked past Mausolus from both the east and west sides. The only words that come to mind for this well-earned ascent are "Holy shit!" Solid effort Clint and Scotty! HUGE. You have reason to be proud.

2011-04-26 12:13:26

Clint, Yes we climbed from the Stoney glacier so I guess I'm getting it wrong. I was with Jim F. and Mike Wood (not the alaska Mike). Your picture looked so much like the face we climbed...I'll break out my slides and check it out. Looking at your picture, I just thought we went right where your stripe of ice went straight up.

Our base camp was on a pocket glacier off Sled Pass I think. We had wanted to land on the Stoney glacier but it was too stoney so Paul Roderick and Dave Lee ? landed us near what I think is Sled Pass and we skiied and hiked over to what must be the East face. Our Cache by the e. face got raided by a bear before our attempt but it only bit into a water bottle. The bears were using the Stoney glacier as a short-cut between valleys. We spent days looking at the gully system we climbed and didn't see any rock or ice fall so we went for it. The day we climbed got much warmer than the days before and huge snow mushrooms began detaching from the steep walls on the side and flying over our heads. Also, slush avalanches began coming down too. They looked like whitewater. We kept going to the safety of the ridge which we reached at a distinct notch. A rock pitch out of the notch put us on a nice ledge in some small gendarmes where we were finally safe.

You guys obviously got it right by climbing in colder, icier conditions. We were a bit too agressive and got really lucky. My hat is off to you guys.

2011-04-07 21:12:27
Clint Helander

Hello Scott, did you attempt the west face from the Swift Glacier or the east face from the Stony Glacier? Did you attempt it with James Funsten? I was only aware of an attempt from the east (James Funsten). Either way, that is very, very cool. What a close call! Please tell us more. What happened that day?

We did not come across ANY sign of anyone on the mountain. In fact, we didn't even ever hit a ridge. We went up the most direct route on the west face (from the Swift Glacier) to the summit pyramid to the summit. I certainly thought of just how close the previous party had come to topping out. What a bummer!

I can't say enough about our luck and the conditions we had! It was truly an experience of a lifetime and I will forever cherish the time spent on the summit. The views were amazing, the feeling was euphoric and luckily Scotty was tired and uncaffeinated so he didn't talk TOO much!!! A dream lived!

2011-04-07 03:00:12

Nice work booooyyz!

2011-04-06 05:28:51
scotty vincik

I'd like to convey the delightful feeling of finding such climable and safe conditins on this route. Everything was straightforward; strenuous because of the unrelenting steepness, length, and wicked hardness of the deep frozen seasonal ice, but the route passed by with comparative ease by Alaskan norms. We were runout only due to the lack of ice screws, hungry only because I took only bagels and bars for food. We mananged to spend the night without shivering, despite sleeping in slings. The ice was grey, and bonded. It was quite a different experience from chimneying up curtains of welded sugar snow, which so often are found in Alaska. The summit was cold, with deadly still air, and views far out into the reaches of western Alaska, an area incomparable in vastness within the U.S. It was alpine climbing as you dream of, and our primary feeling about the route was one of luck and gratitude for our perseverance exploring up here. This one is for the monkeys, and the monkeys who have passed. Scotty

2011-04-06 04:01:37

that and it's an an elegant line.

Apcolapyse next?

2011-04-06 02:57:51

I think the most impressive part of this ascent, is the fact that it was done in winter.

2011-04-06 02:52:47

Nice job!!! Mausolus is an amazing looking peak. We tried this line in June 1998 and gained the ridge but did not make it over to the summit. The conditions were horrendous (way too warm that day) and when we gained the ridge we just sat and counted ourselves very lucky to have survived the day. We carried no bivy gear and our time from the Stony glacier to the ridge and back was about 24 hours. We had some huge stuff fly by us that day and once we got committed we decided it would be safer to go up. Did you see any of our rap anchors from the ridge? I will always regret not bagging the top of this beautiful beast but am happy that we all made it back unscathed.

This was my first and only trip to Alaska and I will never forget our view of the Peak as we flew in. It just looked so impressive. As far as I know, it had never been attempted before we got there. Again, nice job!!!

Scott Rourke

2011-04-06 01:54:15
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