Arrigetch Rock Climbs

The Arrigetch Peaks are in the Brooks Range of Alaska, in the Gates of the Arctic National Park. "arrigetch" = "fingers of a hand outstretched".

The following route list has been compiled from reports in the American Alpine Journal from 1965-2001. The routes can be grouped along 3 ridges. The first two run west to east, and are north (A) and south (B) of the most common base camp on Aiyagomahala Creek. The third (C) is west of this camp (and runs north to south).

[area map - 1970 AAJ] [area map - 1975 AAJ]

A. Wichmann-Badile-Citadel Ridge

(North of Aiyagomahala Creek)
[Wichmann Tower, from the north]
Wichmann Tower, from the north
photo by Brownell Bergen
[Michael Westmacott on the NW Face of Wichmann Tower]
Michael Westmacott on the NW Face of Wichmann Tower
photo by Brownell Bergen
1. Wichmann Tower, W/SW Ridge to North Face 5.7?
"Relatively short, but exposed difficult". The FA party used the North face to avoid some unstable rock on the ridge from a large rockfall two days before.
FA - Brownell Bergen, A.H. Buck Cass, Charles Loucks, Michael Westmacott, 7/1964
2ndA - Juri Tint, Olaf Soot, 1978, from NW glacier

2. Wichmann Tower, SW Ridge Direct Finish 5.8
Instead of traversing to N Face, climbs a 5.7 and a 5.8 pitch directly up ridge.
FA - Dave Dahl, Jock Richardson, Bill Zaumen, Walt Vennum, 7/1980

3. Wichmann Tower, NE Ridge/East Face 4th class
Descended by the FA party, in a traverse of the peak. The route is in a corner on the East Face, close to the NE Ridge.
FA - Brownell Bergen, A.H. Buck Cass, Charles Loucks, Michael Westmacott, 7/1964

4. Elephant's Tooth, South Face 5.7 (4300')
(on ridge North and East of Wichmann Tower)
FA - Arthur Bacon, George Ripley, 8/1969
2ndA - Lorna Corson, Norm Larson, 7/1993

5. Elephant's Tooth, East Ridge
FA - David S. Roberts, Robert Waldorp, 8/1969

6. Badile, East Ridge from South
FA - Edward Ward, David S. Roberts, 6/1971
2ndA - Jeff White, Helen Apthorp, 7/1974
3rdA - Dave Dahl, Jock Richardson, Bill Zaumen, Walt Vennum, 7/1980

7. Badile, East Ridge from South, with East Face var.
FA - Savvy Saunders, Dieter Klose, 8/1979

8. Badile, SW Buttress III 5.10 A3
Single 700' crack from the base to the summit overhangs
FA - Mike Biarzi, Roman Dial, 8/1979

9. Badile, SE Buttress 5.10+
5 pitches
FA - Dave Medara, Jonny Allen, 6/1997

10. Disneyland, SW Face
Harder than Badile E Ridge or Tasmania
FA - Edward Ward, David S. Roberts, 6/1971

11. Parabola Peak, West Summit (5900')
(on N. spur from Disneyland)
FA - Arthur Bacon, George Ripley, David S. Roberts, Robert Waldorp, 8/1969
2ndA Rein Grabbi, Juri Tint, David Kaplan, Gitta Soot, Olaf Soot - 1978

12. Australia
Highest between Disneyland and Camel

13. Tasmania (5800')
(just E of Australia)
FA - Edward Ward, David Vicario, David S. Roberts, Cindy Cattell, 6/1971
2ndA - David Vicario, Alice Bissell, 6/1971

14. Camel
FA - Charles Loucks, Michael Westmacott, Sally Westmacott, Robley Williams Jr., 7/1964

15. East Maiden (7050'), Original Route
FA - Jeanne Bergen, Louise Cass, Sally Westmacott, Robley Williams Jr., 7/1964
2ndA - Sharon Roberts, David S. Roberts, David Vicario, Alice Bissell, Nancy Lord, Kathy Garber, 6/1971
3rdA - Dave Dahl, Jock Richardson, Bill Zaumen, Walt Vennum, 7/1980

16. East Maiden, South Face and East Ridge 5.8
FA - Peter Lehner, Michael Lehner, Carl Lehner, 8/1976

17. Central Maiden Peak, North Buttress V 5.9
Climbs the central prow. This line involves traversing left out toward the prow via a ledge. It starts off the ledge up a vegetated chimney to crack climbing (5.8). After several pitches angling left, an exposed face climb right on the prow involves tricky route finding (i.e. little protection and ~5.7). It leads to a ~7-pitch long dihedral on the right side of the buttress (sustained 5.6-5.8). A multi pitch crack ends just short of the summit (~3 pitches up to 5.8). The last pitch of the route is a perfect hand crack through a roof that overlooks the entire face (5.9-5.10a). ~30 pitches of pleasant climbing on excellent rock and spectacular exposure.
The original descent was via a mixed gully to the right of the face which was quite unpleasant (scary); descending to the South and hiking back around through the pass to the East is probably a better choice although significantly longer.
"Perhaps the most impressive climb in the Arrigetch"
FA - Bob McGregor, Yann Merrand, Gary Brill, 6/1989

18. Central Maiden Peak, North Buttress - Right V 5.9
Climbs the face right of the central prow.
FA - John Markel, Bill Duggan, 1982

19. West Maiden, Original Route
FA - Charles Loucks, Michael Westmacott, Sally Westmacott, Robley Williams Jr., 7/1964
2ndA - Edward Ward, Cindy Cattell, Tom Griggs, Bob Hefner, 6/1971
3rdA - Bob Hefner, David Vicario, Alice Bissell, 6/1971
4thA - Dave Dahl, Jock Richardson, Bill Zaumen, Walt Vennum, 7/1980

20. West Maiden, East Ridge (same as Original Route?)
FA - Peter Lehner, Michael Lehner, Carl Lehner, 8/1976 21. West Maiden, East Face 5.9
4 pitches
FA - Dave Medara, Rick Clements Kai Hirvonnen, Jonny Allen, 6/1997

22. Citadel, West Face 3rd/4th class
FA - Charles Loucks, Brownell Bergen, Jeanne Bergen, 7/1964
2ndA - Sharon Roberts, David S. Roberts, 6/1971
3rdA - Peter Lehner, Michael Lehner, Carl Lehner, 8/1976
4thA - Dave Dahl, Jock Richardson, Bill Zaumen, Walt Vennum, 7/1980

23. Slot Tower, SW Chimney II 5.8
(immediately E of Citadel)
FA - Dave Dahl, Jock Richardson, Bill Zaumen, Walt Vennum, 7/1980

B. Pyramid-Emmons-Shot Ridge

(South of Aiyagomahala Creek)

24. Scorpio III 5.7
(3 spires are S of Independence Pass and W of Pyramid. N to S: Scorpio, middle spire, Locomotive?)
FA - Dieter Klose, 8/1979

25. Locomotive, West Face
FA - Ben Reed, Jeff White, Bill Bullard, 6/1974

[Battleship, Arthur Emmons, Pyramid]
photo by Carl Lehner

[Brownell Bergen looking up to crux of Pyramid ESE Face]
Brownell Bergen looking up to crux of Pyramid ESE Face
[The Dihedral high on Pyramid ESE Face]
The Dihedral high on Pyramid ESE Face

26. Pyramid, ESE Face 5.6
Starts in a corner on the ESE Face, below/right of the false summit on the East Ridge. 200' of high angle 5.6 climbing, including an overhang and a spectacular dihedral, reach a large ledge. After moving right on the ledge to directly below the summit, 10 pitches of easy 5th class faces and laybacks gain the top. A 6 hour approach to the face from camp, via the col.
FA - Brownell Bergen, Jeanne Bergen, Charles Loucks, 7/1964

27. Pyramid, East Ridge 5.4 A2
One aid move was used on the summit block.
FA - Michael Lehner, Carl Lehner, 8/1976

28. Pyramid, West Ridge III 5.8
FA - Dave Dahl, Jock Richardson, Bill Zaumen, Walt Vennum, 7/1980

29. Pyramid, new route
FA - Rick Clements, Kai Hirvonnen, 6/1997

[Battleship, Arthur Emmons]
photo by Kathy Garber

30. Holiday
FA - 1964? (not mentioned in 1965 AAJ)

31. Arthur Emmons, NW Glacier to West Ridge
"perfect rock"
Arthur Emmons was on the 1932 first ascent of Minya Konka (Gongga Shan, 7556m). He was also the father of Louise Emmons Cass (on the '63 and '64 Arrigetch expeditions). He died just prior to the '63 expedition.
FA - Jon Krakauer, Bill Bullard, 7/1974

32. Battleship, West Ridge 3rd/4th class
(on N spur ridge from Arthur Emmons)
FA - Brownell Bergen, Jeanne Bergen, Charles Loucks, Michael Westmacott, Sally Westmacott, Robley Williams Jr., 7/1964
2ndA - Peter Lehner, Michael Lehner, Carl Lehner, 8/1976

[Shot Tower from North]
photo by Tom Griggs

[Shot Tower, West Ridge]
photo by David S. Roberts

[Shot Tower, Aid Pitch]
photo by David S. Roberts

[Shot Tower, West Ridge - aerial view]
photo by Jim Wark
Shot Tower, West Ridge, from www.mountainpilot.com

33. Shot Tower, West Ridge IV 5.8 A2
"Finest alpine rock climb", 16 pitches, aid pitch on final headwall
p1-p3: easy, on a sharp-edged spine
p4: hard/tricky
p5: hard/devious, rope drag, to skimpy ledge
p6: as hard as p5, awkward move
p7-p8: eases
p9: left-handed crack, harder than it looks
p10: traverse left under Mushroom, to platform with ice for water (June)
p11-p12: slow
p13: ends at deep slash across ridge, with ice on floor for water
p14: 60' vertical headwall, single shallow crooked crack, tied off pins, hook
p15-p16: easy, almost walking
Descent: rappel route, fixed pins. Original party used one 180' rope.
FA - Edward Ward, David S. Roberts, 6/1971
2ndA - Savvy Saunders, Roman Dial, 8/1979
3rdA - Dave Dahl, Jock Richardson, Walt Vennum, 8/1980
4thA - Yann Merrand, Gary Brill, 7/1989
5thA - Rick Clements, Kai Hirvonnen, 6/1997

34. Shot Tower, NW Face V 5.9 A3+
36 hours, descended West Ridge
FA - Mike Biarzi, Dieter Klose, 7/1979

35. Shot Tower, NW Face - Alaskan Magnum Wall V 5.10 A3
FA - Dave Medara, Jonny Allen, 6/1997

36. Marshall Peak, North Gully + Slabs 5.5
(E of Shot Tower). N Gully has vertical walls and 6 pitches; then slabs to the summit.
FA - Peter Lehner, Michael Lehner, Carl Lehner 8/1976

37. Moria, South Route 3rd/4th class
(further E of Shot Tower, a.k.a. Sodden). Attempted twice by 1964 party, but they were "rained out".
FA - Carl Lehner, 8/1976

38. Moria, North Ridge
attempted - Michael Lehner, Carl Lehner, 8/1976, did 16 pitches to ridge

C. Caliban-Xanadu-Melting Ridge

(West of Aiyagomahala Creek)

39. Caliban, Original Route (7200')
FA - Arthur Bacon, George Ripley, David S. Roberts, Robert Waldorp, 8/1969

40. Caliban, South Buttress 5.8
FA - Bob McGregor, Yann Merrand, Gary Brill, Fred Beckey, 6/1989

40.5 Caliban, Pillar Arete V 5.10b
The East Ridge; passes several large gendarmes/towers, 16 pitches
climbing.com
FA - Ryan Hokanson, Samuel Johnson, 8/2008

41. Caliban East Summit, Gullies/Slabs 3rd/4th class
FA? - Lorna Corson, Norm Larson, 7/1993

42. Caliban, South Face Triangular orange face, loose flakes.
attempted - Lorna Corson, Norm Larson, 7/1993

43. Ariel (6600')
FA - Arthur Bacon, George Ripley, 8/1969
2ndA - David S. Roberts, Robert Waldorp, 8/1969

44. Xanadu, West Face and South Arete 5.7
FA - Jon Krakauer, Bill Bullard, 6/1974

45. Xanadu South Peak, East Rib IV 5.9
This route actually ends on a subsidiary summit. On that day the FA party did not have the bolt kit and had to stop short of the main summit.
FA - Bob McGregor, Yann Merrand, 6/1989

46. Xanadu, NW Ridge easy 5th class
Attempt ended 200' vertically short of summit, loose blocks.
attempted - Ben Reed, Mark Rademacher, Helen Apthorp, Jeff White, 6/1974

47. Xanadu, North Side
A 5.7 pitch was climbed during the attempt
attempted - 8/1969

48. The Albatross, Original Route (5400')
(On spur ridge, east of Xanadu)
Slender fin of rock, hardest route of 1969 expedition.
FA - Arthur Bacon, George Ripley, 8/1969

49. The Albatross, Right Side of South Face IV 5.9
Parallel cracks. Descended SW Face.
FA - Lorna Corson, Norm Larson, 7/1993

50. Melting Tower, SW Face 5.4
chimney through summit wall
FA - Mark Rademacher, Jon Krakauer, 6/1974

51. Melting Tower, SW Face Direct 5.7?
joined SW face for last 2 pitches
FA - Jeff White, Helen Apthorp, 7/1974

52. Lemming Peak 5.6 A2
Intricate route finding, rotten rock, some aid on an overhang.
FA - Jeff White, Helen Apthorp, 7/1974

D. Kobuk valley

The locations of these summits are vague. The O'Neill party arrived after the Krakauer party had left in early July, and apparently approached via Creek 4662 and Independence Pass. They thought nobody had climbed in the Kobuk valley, but Krakauer's party had just done that, with a base camp there. Probably several of their summits correspond to peaks previously listed/climbed for the valley - Lemming Peak, Melting Tower, Wichmann Tower, Locomotive, etc.

53. The Glenlivet
One of two largest peaks at the head of the valley.
2500' face, good rock, one bivouac, 24 hours of climbing
FA - John Lyon, James O'Neill, 7/1974

54. Mt. Analogue, South Face
One of two largest peaks at the head of the valley.
Direct route. Shorter and more difficult than North Ridge, two days.
FA - Peter Millar, Bob Forbes, 7/1974

55. Mt. Analogue, North Ridge
Reached false summit; a long ridge of gendarmes blocked access to the main summit.
attempted - Peter Millar, Bob Forbes, 7/1974

56. unnamed smaller peak near camp
FA - Rafael Gurvis, Hope Yandell, 7/1974

57. prow-like formation
Towers above the pass [Independence Pass?] used to access Kobuk valley.
FA - Peter Millar, Rafael Gurvis, 7/1974

58. peak towards south end of valley
Appears unclimbable except by bolt ladder on three sides. The route involves much route-finding difficulties and two precariously protected leads.
FA - James O'Neill, et al?, 7/1974

59. formation similar to the Diamond on Longs Peak
Intriguing corner. Eight pitches to a 12-hour shelter from rain under the only overhang on the face. Several more pitches to an awkward chimney in the sun with deteriorating rock. One more pitch to the crest of the ridge. Rockfall when rappelling off. 30 hours.
FA - Rafael Gurvis, John Lyon, James O'Neill, 7/1974

E. unspecified location

60. Unnamed Peak
2500' wall
FA - Chris Noble, companion, 1985

Bibliography

Marshall, Robert, Arctic Wilderness. He visited the area in 1931.

1965 American Alpine Journal (AAJ) - Bergen - original rock climbs, shot a grizzly bear, base camp in 46-62.
Thanks to Walt Vennum for providing me with a copy of this article.

1970 AAJ - Roberts - map, base camp on Arrigetch Creek
Thanks to Bill Zaumen for providing me with a copy of this article.

1972 AAJ - Roberts - FA of Shot Tower via West Ridge, other climbs, photos, mosquitoes, mostly without ratings

1975 AAJ - Krakauer - map, bears

1975 AAJ - O'Neill - Kobuk valley (unfortunately, the locations of summits climbed are vague)

1977 AAJ - Lehner - new moderate routes with ratings

1979 Harvard Mountaineering - Lehner - more details and photos

1979 AAJ - Olaf Soot - rainy

1980 AAJ - Klose - some new routes with ratings, 13/30 days of rain/fog

1981 AAJ - Vennum - some moderate new routes and repeats, raved about high quality of Shot Tower West Ridge. 10/30 days of rain/fog

1985 (circa) Smithsonian - cover article with great photos. (Does anyone know the exact issue)?

1990 AAJ - Beckey - moderate FAs
additional details from Yann Merrand

1995 AAJ - Larson - moderate FAs

1998 AAJ - Beckey - moderate FAs
full account, transcribed by Bill Zaumen

1998 AAJ - Reichart - moderate FA
full account, transcribed by Mike Morley

1998 CAJ

2003(?) AAJ - Pflueger - moderate FAs
trip report, by Jeff Pflueger

Note: AAJs from 1965-2001 have been checked for all references to the Arrigetch. Thanks to Bill Zaumen for checking the 1997-2001 issues.

Links


Compiled by Clint Cummins clint@leland.stanford.edu.
rev. 3/31/2003. (new routes from 1997 and 2002 not added yet)