Stuckey rocking the classic double backpack Alaska single carry approach. Beware those of the soft southern lands, no trails and no roads here.
Jason Stuckey and I are back after an unsuccessful attempt at the Northeast Ridge of Mount Moffit. We climbed 4000 feet of choss on our first day and bivied early at the notch just prior to the first of the towers on the crux section, the plan being to wait to see what the weather would do the next morning before committing to the difficult to revcrse crux segment of the ridge which also appeared quite chossy, though not as bad as the lower segment of the ridge. Thanks to family and friends, and to Gore Tex for the Shipton Tilman Award in support of our trip.
Peak 9740-ish and Mount Hayes shortly after leaving basecamp.
Stuckey steps out of basecamp and onto the Northeast Ridge of Mount Moffit.
Your soul better belong to (insert deity/belief system of choice), cuz your ass belongs to the choss. Stuckey prior to a near miss choss collapse partway through the inital 4000 foot segment of ridge.
As it happens, however, late in the evening as we were settling down to sleep I accidentally knocked our jetboil stove off our tiny bivy ledge into the abyss, changing our game plan significantly as we would be unable to melt water or cook. I rappelled 60m down into the chossy chasm below into a vertical and overhanging iced chimney system to find only an icy ramp from which our stove would have no doubt launched quite a ways prior to initial impact on the next segment of the chossy face until it came to rest some 3500 feet below. Having no luck, I reascended the rope to our small bivy ledge.
The view from the bivy ledge at 8k, 4000 feet into the Northeast Ridge, pre stove abyss launch.
Photo: Northeast Ridge of Mount Moffit from the 1977 American Alpine Journal.
The next morning we awoke late, and enjoyed the ambience of the mountain, watching the Entropy Wall prior to beginning our descent. Shortly after we bagan our descent, precipitation began in earnest and we became somewhat thankful for the event of my launching the stove into the abyss as it inadvertently saved us from being 4-5 pitches into the crux, difficult to reverse segment of the ridge. By the time we reversed the 4000 feet of the initial choss ridge and regained our basecamp six hours later we had largely decided that we would not return to the route even with our basecamp stove, an XGK, due to the poor rock quality we experienced and observed on route. Just another huge plum and last great problem of the Hayes Range, appearing generally climbable but not particularly appealing up close.
The chossy beginnings of the crux segment of the Northeast Ridge, upper Entropy Wall looming behind.
A hanging glacier bordering the Entropy Wall as the weather moves in prior to our descent of the lower Northeast Ridge.
The next day the rain continued. We obtained a weather forecast indicating a continuation of precipitation in the coming days, and decided to load up and begin the walk out as our desire for another attempt waned with each rainy hour. We left camp at about 8 pm, crossed the Trident Glacier, and gained several thousand feet through a 6500 foot pass at which point we bivied by a nice alpine tarn. The next day we ascended a small 5200 foot pass and descended onto the terminal moraine of the McGinnis Glacier. We spent the next 24 hours bushwhacking and relaxing at various intervals until we reached the Delta River and bumped into friends Cortney and Tobey on their own adventure at the confluence of McGinnis Creek and the Delta River.
Myself and a cool ice cave in the Trident lateral moraine on the walk out to the Delta River. This one's for you Sherrie Soltis, AK self portrait mistress!
Following this, Jason and I plus 170 pounds of gear squeezed into a single Alpacka Yukon Yak, at some risk of capsizing, to make the crossing back the Richardson Highway where we were picked up by Jason's girlfriend Kennan for an expeditious ride back to Fairbanks.
Jason Stuckey and I are trying to fly into the Hayes Range tomorrow to make an attempt on Mount Moffit, which we are both looking forward to. I will update if we get stuck in town or plans change for any reason. Stay tuned for a trip report when we get back!