Blakemore and Turner climb No Country for Old Men in Alaska

Posted by Lindsay Griffin on 11/06/2015
North (left) and Middle Triple peaks from the Tatina Glacier. No Country for old men starts up the obvious wide couloir on North Triple before heading up left direct to the summit. Twid Turner.
View 1 of 3

Supported by grants from the BMC, Mount Everest Foundation, and the Alpine Club, Tim Blakemore and Mike "Twid" Turner have recently climbed a hard new ice route on North Triple Peak in Alaska's Kichatna Range.

In 2012 Twid, his climbing partner Dave Gladwin, and two other alpinists who were camped on the Tatina Glacier at the time, Stu Inchley (UK) and a Tasmanian named Kim, made the first ascent of the northwest pillar of Middle Triple Peak.

The 1,000m route was named Hard Arteries (A3 and Scottish V), and the approach took them below the northwest couloir of the rarely climbed North Triple Peak (2,560m).

Blakemore and Turner had come to the range, on Turner's 10th visit, with other goals, which included potential hard ice lines on the west face of Middle Triple and Mount Nevermore.

However, the Kichatnas are well known for their demanding climatic conditions, and lived up to this reputation.

Blakemore and Turner experienced poor weather almost the entire time, and had to grab any opportunity, by climbing fast over steep ground when a short weather window appeared.

They spotted the line during a reconnaissance. Then, after more or less reaching the pass between the Tatina and Monolith glaciers, started on North Triple via the original route up the northwest couloir.

Having climbed six relatively-straightforward but time-consuming pitches they broke out left on steep, sustained ice of excellent quality, following a prominent smear.

The crux 70m pitch featured two sections of vertical ice; the first AI5 with good pro, the second AI6 on poor ice and even worse protection.

This led into a couloir and eventually to below the summit cornice.

The cornice proved baffling at first, with Blakemore having to retreat on hitting a dead end after tunnelling upwards for 15m. The pair finally managed to force a passage through to the highest point of the mountain via vertical sugar snow.

The 800m line leading direct to the summit required 18 pitches, featured mostly fantastic ice, and was climbed and rappelled in a continuous push of 24 hours.

Reflecting their age (particularly Twid's) and choice of novels, the two have named the route after Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men. The grade is ED AI6.

North Triple has seen relatively little attention, overshadowed by its higher and much better known neighbour Middle Triple Peak (2,693m)

Richard Ellsworth and Peter Sennauser made the first known ascent, in May 1978. In a 25-hour round trip, they climbed the large ice couloir on the northwest face for 12, 50m pitches to a notch on the west ridge.

From there three pitches of mixed terrain on the crest led back east to the summit. The rappel descent was punctuated by a chilly four-hour wait in the middle of the face, waiting for dawn after their head torches failed.

Nearly 10 years before a legendary team of Americans, Joe Fitschen, Charles Raymond and Royal Robbins had come within 50m of the top via a different route.

In a 41-hour round trip (with one short rest) they climbed difficult rock through rain and drizzle, with freezing fingers, to a snow hump they thought was the summit.

As the mist cleared, they saw the true summit 50m higher and around 120m distant. They were knackered, and it had started to snow, so they retreated.

They never went back, concentrating instead on making, successfully, the first ascent of South Triple.

In 1993 the northwest couloir was repeated by Doug Byerly and Calvin Herbert, who graded it Alaskan IV, AI4, and again that same year by Michael Pennings, who climbed solo.
 



« Back

Post a comment Print this article

This article has been read 652 times

TAGS

Click on the tags to explore more

RELATED ARTICLES

How to climb the Eiger
2
How to climb the Eiger

No other mountain in the Alps elicits emotions like the Eiger. Foreboding and dominant above the Alpine village of Grindelwald, it has been the inspiration for Hollywood films, books and countless mountaineers. IFMGA Mountain Guide Tim Blakemore gives us a tour and inside tips.
Read more »

Galvan and Zerain disappear while attempting second crossing of Mazeno Ridge.
1
Galvan and Zerain disappear while attempting second crossing of Mazeno Ridge.

Hope of finding the noted partnership of Argentinian Mariano Galvan, and the Spanish-Basque Alberto Zerain, who were attempting an alpine-style ascent of Nanga Parbat's Mazeno Ridge, has now faded after an aerial search on the morning of the 1st July.
Read more »

Where are they going? The BMC Expedition Grants
1
Where are they going? The BMC Expedition Grants

The following teams received grant aid from the BMC for expeditions taking place during 2017. Most are still to leave the UK; some are currently in the field, and some have recently returned, though the results of their endeavours are presently unknown. In general, only the designated expedition organiser is named.
Read more »

Post a Comment

Posting as Anonymous Community Standards
3000 characters remaining
Submit
Your comment has been posted below, click here to view it
Comments are currently on | Turn off comments
0

There are currently no comments, why not add your own?

RELATED ARTICLES

How to climb the Eiger
2

No other mountain in the Alps elicits emotions like the Eiger. Foreboding and dominant above the Alpine village of Grindelwald, it has been the inspiration for Hollywood films, books and countless mountaineers. IFMGA Mountain Guide Tim Blakemore gives us a tour and inside tips.
Read more »

Galvan and Zerain disappear while attempting second crossing of Mazeno Ridge.
1

Hope of finding the noted partnership of Argentinian Mariano Galvan, and the Spanish-Basque Alberto Zerain, who were attempting an alpine-style ascent of Nanga Parbat's Mazeno Ridge, has now faded after an aerial search on the morning of the 1st July.
Read more »

Where are they going? The BMC Expedition Grants
1

The following teams received grant aid from the BMC for expeditions taking place during 2017. Most are still to leave the UK; some are currently in the field, and some have recently returned, though the results of their endeavours are presently unknown. In general, only the designated expedition organiser is named.
Read more »

BMC MEMBERSHIP
Join 82,000 BMC members and support British climbing, walking and mountaineering. Membership only £16.97.
Read more »
BMC SHOP
Great range of guidebooks, DVDs, books, calendars and maps.
All with discounts for members.
Read more »
TRAVEL INSURANCE
Get covered with BMC Insurance. Our five policies take you from the beach to Everest.
Read more »