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Home » Climbing Notes » MT. KENNEDY, A PAIR OF JACKS


Rich Cross breaking through the final rock band on Day 3 during the first complete ascent of A Pair of Jacks (VI M6 WI5+, 6000′, Roberts-Tackle, 1996) on the northwest face of Mt. Kennedy, Alaska. [Photo] Jon Bracey

In 1996, Jack Tackle and Jack Roberts established the very difficult mixed line A Pair of Jacks (VI M6 WI5+, 6,000′) in capsule style on the northwest face of Mt. Kennedy (13,905′). Bad weather and a dropped crampon forced a retreat from high on the wall; the huge face still awaited its first complete ascent.

Jon Bracey and I flew from Kluane Lake onto the Dusty Glacier on May 4. The next day we decided to approach the face “for a look.” Over the next three days we climbed the route, finding excellent conditions. The bulk of it was pure ice to Scottish 5 with several harder mixed pitches. A few variations were made on the Jacks’ line, one of which provided the mixed crux at hard Scottish 7. Where the Jacks were forced off, we continued directly through the second rock band on new ground, then straight to the summit via the upper icefield/north spur. The weather held off until summit day, which was savagely cold and windy, but we descended that night to sheltered ground on the Cathedral Glacier for our third bivy (and first lying down). A couple of nervous days were spent waiting for our pickup as the food ran out, but nothing could dampen the elation of climbing this incredible face within a week of leaving the UK.

— Rich Cross, Sheffield, United Kingdom