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

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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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