Just days after his appearance in Chamonix/Courmayeur, where he received a Special Mention at the Piolets d'Or, David Lama flew to Alaska with Dani Arnold and made a remarkably quick ascent of a hard new route on the Moose's Tooth.
Bird of Prey climbs more or less directly up the centre of the ca 1,500m east face, and was completed in a very rapid 48 hours camp-to-camp from the Buckskin Glacier.
The route starts to the right of the original line on the face, Dance of the Woo Li Masters (Jim Bridwell-Mugs Stump, 1981), slants left to join it, continues on this and the 2004 route, Arctic Rage (Ben Gilmore-Kevin Mahoney), for a short distance before breaking out left to take the centre of the headwall direct.
Two days after their flight onto the glacier, east of the Ruth Gorge, Arnold (Switzerland) and Lama (Austria) left their tent at 2:00 a.m. and "agreeing on the bits we wanted to solo" started up the face.
Once on the headwall the climbing became demanding. There was no single pitch that proved incredibly hard, just a succession of sustained rope lengths involving different styles of climbing and very little protection.
At 9:00 p.m. they reached a small ledge, where they bivouacked until dawn. Temperatures were reportedly a little colder than normal at this time of year, with the thermometer dropping to - 20°C during the night.
Route finding on the second day proved as complex as the first, and the climbers had to make several pendulums to connect crack systems. At one point they had a lucky escape, when Lama took a very short fall, brushing a large mushroom, which collapsed onto the ropes.
Fortunately, the protection held, though the force of the snowfall was enough to pull one of the pegs from the belay anchor.
Leaving behind bivouac gear to increase speed, the two negotiated the upper section of wall, which proved more demanding than it looked from below.
Arnold's ability on ice complemented Lama's on rock, though the two, finding the top section more dangerous than difficult, often had to run out 60m with no gear, and on ice that was generally hard and brittle.
They reached the summit at 6:00 p.m. and immediately began a rappel descent of the route, arriving back on the glacier 48 hours after setting out.
Now the most direct line on the east face, Bird of Prey had difficulties of 6a, M7+, 90° and A2.