Climbing a first ascent on A-Peak, Cabinet Mountains, Montana: “Unprotected four-play” Grade IV, 2000′, AI4+, M6
Ben Erdman and I had both returned home from South America from yet another season of climbing and vagabonding along the eastern flank of the Andes. I had flown straight to El Calafate in November only to hit a wall of poor weather conditions in the mountains. After three weeks of festering, sport climbing, and bouldering in Chalten, it was time for me to fly north and prepare for leading two expeditions on Aconcagua. The nightmare had come true – I went, I tried, I left empty handed. But so goes the saying, you won’t know if you don’t go old chap! All said Patagonia is so beautiful and inspiring that I came away with so much more than I arrived with. New friendships, a finer appreciation for Argentinian folk dancing, killer runs on perfect trails, and some proud sends on big yellow rocks around town. I am young, and I will be back. A farewell empanada party at Ben’s house sent me off in style. I made stops in El Bolson and Bariloche to climb and visit old friends before busing up to Mendoza to work. El Bolson will always hold a special place in my heart. We spent a week in the mountains above town exploring the fantastic hut system that makes this place a true gem. When I landed in Mendoza the hot dry air reminded me that I was back for another season on one of the planets chacras: Aconcagua. The season was a cold one with big snow falls at base camp, but I managed to summit the big stone and with a group that truly loved to be in the mountains. Thanks to my beloved friend Pilar, a trendy professional from Santiago, I wasn’t four days off the summit before I was sipping a beer at a reggae concert in Pichilemu, Chile. We woke up on the beach after the concert and all was tranquilo with the heavy air and crashing waves. We walked the sands of punto de lobos and talked about our lives and our loves, how wild they had been and what the future might hold. I left a day later for home with no plans, simply to be, and digest the last three months. My friend Scott Coldiron called me a few days into a jet lag time warp. He raved about ice conditions in a little known range called the Cabinets in NW Montana. Scott had just put up several ice lines in the area and his grin suggested infinite possibilities. So the four of us went up to see what was possible on the un-climbed NE face of A Peak. What we found was a new 2000′ ice and mixed line accompanied by splitter weather. For more on the route and the area click here.
We climbed as two teams of two with long run-out’s between belays plus huge blocks of simul-climbing. I think that’s why Scott named it “un-protected four play”- no, I am fucking sure that’s why;)
A big Adventure and a stout climb with great company. Thanks guys!