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'Spicy All the Time' on North Twin: A Photo Essay


Wharton packs after spending a night on the first bivy ledge. [Photo] Jon Walsh

Since the Grade VI North Face was first climbed at 5.10 A3 in 1974 by George Lowe and Chris Jones, only three other teams have summited the immense wall, the low success rate a result—at least in part—of extensive rockfall and wet conditions. Steve House and Marko Prezelj completed the wall's only ascent in winter conditions in April 2004. During the 1985 ascent, Blanchard and Cheesmond experienced dangerously loose rock. Blanchard recalled on his blog, "A five foot by two foot by one foot thick hunk of rock sheared away from the side of the number 3 Friend that I was jumaring on. It roared out over me, a revolving black shadow." Luckily the backup nuts held. "It was mind boggling to us, that the only three parties to have climbed the face previously had done so in 1974, 1985, and in [April] of 2004. All parties had been pushed to their mental and physical limits, including ourselves," Walsh wrote.

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