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Variation Connects Two Major Routes on Mt. Bradley

Mt. Bradley (9,104′), Ruth Gorge, Alaska Range, Alaska, as viewed from the southeast. On May 2, John Frieh and Dylan Johnson climbed a variation that connects the lower section of Season of the Sun (red) with the upper section of East Buttress (blue) via 500 vertical feet of new terrain (yellow). The pair found M5/6 climbing on all three sections. [Photo] John Frieh

During a five-day, early May blitz from the Ruth Glacier in Alaska, John Frieh and Dylan Johnson climbed a new variation on Mt. Bradley (9,104′). They also snuck in a lap on the popular Ham and Eggs (V 5.9 AI4, 2,900′), which climbs The Mooses Tooth (10,355′).

Initial conditions reports led the pair to scout Bradley’s East Buttress (5.10 70 degrees, 1400m), which was established as a pure rock route in 1987. However, several slabs low on the route were covered with a layer of loose, sugary snow. Still intent on climbing the buttress, they hooked in after zigzagging through part of Season of the Sun (V WI4R M6R, 4,500′), a route established by the Giri-Giri Boys in their own Alaska onslaught three years before.

On May 2, Frieh and Johnson found neve, rock steps and thin but well-protected ice on Season of the Sun before pulling through its M6 offwidth crux. After the second major ice pitch, where the route transitions into a central gully, the pair exited right across snow slopes. Two challenging pitches (M5/6) then took them to the icy buttress. They pitched out most of the remaining terrain to the summit, avoiding cornices and wading through sugary snow to reach top at 6 p.m., about 12 hours after leaving their skis.

The variation climbs about 500 vertical feet of new ground between Season of the Sun and the East Buttress, Frieh said. The two new mixed pitches and some terrain on the upper buttress “felt harder than the Season of the Sun offwidth crux earlier on the route,” he added.

The pair took one rest day and climbed Ham and Eggs on May 4; they flew out of the Gorge the next morning. “With such a short trip, Dylan and I were both fully aware of the distinct possibility that we could spend the entire time shoveling out the tent and catching up on our leisure reading,” Frieh wrote. “It was nice the trip wasn’t a bust.”

Editor’s Note: The southeast face of Bradley was also in the limelight earlier this season when Mark Allen and Graham Zimmerman climbed Vitalogy (Alaska Grade V: M6+ WI5 5.9 R A1, 4,600′). Read more in the April 17, 2010 NewsWire.

Sources: John Frieh,

Johnson climbing mixed steps–new terrain that brought him and Frieh onto the upper East Buttress. The buttress, initially established as a 5.10 rock climb, had difficult mixed sections and deep, sugary snow near the summit.
[Photo] John Frieh