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33-Pitch New Alaskan Wall After 12 Days of Climbing

Thunderstruck follows a massive crack system that required a lot of aid climbing and nights on the portaledge

Mark Thomas and Mike “Twid” Turner have made the first ascent of a new route up the east face of Kichatna Spire in Alaska after 12 days of climbing. The result is Thunderstruck, a big crack system off the Shadow Glacier.

“With just the two of us there was nobody else to lean on to share the work load,” said Turner. “Totally relying on your climbing buddy is essential. Mark Thomas certainly the toughest fitness climber Ive been luckily to tie on with. This guy is probably one of the most underrated British Mountaineers in my option. Not climbed with anybody close with his work rate, technical ability and strength. A monster.”

Like most huge climbs in the Kichatna Spire area, Thunderstruck uses minimum fixed gear but has a few belay bolts where protection wasn’t sufficient. Thunderstruck checks in at VI A3+A4 6c. Turner, who’s been establishing big wall climbs for three decades, had attempted the route in 2000 with Stuart McAleese. After fixing the first 400 metres, they jugged the rope on the final push and spent six more night on the wall using a portaledge. Alaska has had some of the best weather for big alpine lines it’s had in the past decade.

From May 23 to May 27, American alpinists David Allfrey, Whit Magro, and Graham Zimmerman opened a new alpine, big wall route on the northwest face of Kichatna Spire in the Alaska Range. They named the 950-metre line The Pace of Comfort and graded it VI 5.10 A3+ M6, 70-degree snow. Read more about it here.