Top American alpinists Josh Wharton and Jackson Marvell have made the first ascent of The Marvell/Wharton M6 V3R/X on the chossy northeast face of Wheeler Peak in Nevada. The duo didn’t bring any bolts and relied on a hefty rack of pegs, pins and pitons. They attempted the line earlier in the week but had to return to take it to the top.
The Wheeler Peak Glacier in Great Basin National Park is the only glacier in the state. And Wheeler Peak is Nevada’s second tallest at 3,900 metres.
Both climbers have made careers tempting fate on steep and loose alpine walls around the world. In 2019, Marvell and Alan Rousseau climbed a new route on the east face of Mount Dickey in Alaska. Their new line followed a prominent corner system between Blood from the Stone and the Wine Bottle; they named it Ruth Gorge Grinder AI6+ M7, 1,700 m. Wharton and Calgary’s Jon Walsh made the second ascent of The North Pillar VI 5.11 A1 on the north face of North Twin in the Canadian Rockies in 2013.
Wheeler Peak has a number of moderate scrambles to the top, as well as a few alpine lines. The Wheel Deal was put up by James Garrett and Alex Steckel in 1985 at IV WI3 M6. In the late 1970s, Wade Mills soloed a line up the wall at VI 5.8 A3+ and called Stella by Starlight. Read some of the guidebook description below.
Mills began with a Class 4 snow and ice climb of 100 meters to a ramp. He started left, turned to the right, then traversed under a water gully with ice on top. He then climbed the wall next to the gully (left side) which had some running water. This was 60 meters, which he rated between 5.5 and 5.8. He then went left to what he calls “a thin ledge — open book” at 4.0 – 5.5. Above, he went up some overhangs – with aid, which were wet. He made two pitches on thin horizontal holds at 5.8. He finally got onto a long ramp angling up to the left. This ramp fades in places and had ice all over. After many pitches, he got off the face just below the summit. Mills mentions there was some rockfall early on the climb when the sun first hit the face but that ice was hard in the cracks in the upper face….”
Stella by Starlight and The Marvell/Wharton start in different areas on the face, but finish close to one and other.
Wharton in Canada