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Jack and Jay Go to Alaska

Posted on: June 23rd, 2009 by admin

What’s left to do in Alaska after 28 climbing trips in 24 separate years? For AAC treasurer Jack Tackle, along with longtime member Jay Smith (himself a veteran of many Alaska Range new routes), what’s left was four new routes in two and a half weeks. Tackle said this blitzkrieg in May was “maybe my best trip ever to Alaska since I started going in 1976.”

After warming up with a rare ascent of the Rooster Comb, Jack and Jay climbed an 18-pitch new route on the south face of Mt. Huntington’s south peak, followed by a pair of five- and eight-pitch “cragging” routes on an ice-draped rock wall south of Huntington.

After a bit of R&R in Talkeetna, the two flew back into the range and bagged the first ascent of Tangled Up in Blue on the 4,000-foot north face of Thunder Mountain. Grade 6 ice, M6 or M7 mixed, 67 hours tent to tent, a spectacular line to a seldom-climbed peak—Tangled Up in Blue is the real deal. “This was the most significant thing we did on this trip, and both Jay and I think it’s one of the best and hardest routes we have collectively done ever. First attempt. Ground up. We nailed it.”

Not without suffering, though. The two slept only nine hours in 67, and after ten 70-meter rappels down the west face, they had to endure eight miles of nasty snow slogging to return to camp. “The last three miles back up the glacier to the tent took us four hours because of breakable crust and waist-deep snow at times,” Tackle moaned. “It was heinous.”

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Jay Smith leading beautiful ice on the first ascent of the Black Pearl on the Scottish Wall, south of Mt. Huntington. Photo by Jack Tackle.

Jay Smith leading beautiful ice on the first ascent of the Black Pearl on the Scottish Wall, south of Mt. Huntington. Photo by Jack Tackle.

The line of Tangled Up in Blue on the north face of Thunder Mountain. Photo by Jack Tackle.

The line of Tangled Up in Blue on the north face of Thunder Mountain. Photo by Jack Tackle.

Jay Smith enjoying a brief bit of sunshine on the north face of Thunder Mountain, Day 1 of the climb. Photo by Jack Tackle.

Jay Smith enjoying a brief bit of sunshine on the north face of Thunder Mountain, Day 1 of the climb. Photo by Jack Tackle.

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