Jackson Marvell and Alan Rousseau recently made the first ascent of Ruth Gorge Grinder AI6+ M7, 1,500 metres, on Mount Dickey in Alaska. “This winter when Marvell, an equal parts talented, scrappy, modest, and perhaps above all else motivated climber expressed interest in doing an early Alaska trip, East Face of Dickey, almost reflexively came out of my mouth,” said Rousseau.
Their plan was to repeat Blood from Stone, first climbed in 2002, but it lacked ice. The team bivied on the face and decided to continue up but on a different line. On day two, the team made a tricky pendulum into a chimney system. After some technical pitches, they found steep neve and alpine ice. “Protection on the next couple pitches was pretty sparse consisting of tying off stubbiest in the ice blobs on the side of the chimney and occasionally being able to sink a screw to the head,” said Marvell. ” We climbed that block of pitches and pulled into a snowfield right as it was starting to get dark out, we chopped a hasty ledge ate dinner and set in for an uncomfortable night.”
They spent the night soaked and cold before heading out early up more nice pitches before deep snow below the summit. “Finally out of the chimney we were out of the frying pan and into the fire, the final jog to the summit consisted of waste deep facets and less then inspiring gear,” said Marvell. “Alan dispatched it in two long simul blocks until we finally pulled into the summit ridge and had a nice sunny walk to the summit.” Read the full story below.
Day 2 we deviated away from ‘blood from stone’. With this decision I began one of my favorite mental exercises, a vertical game of connect the dots. For me few activities have this level of judgment, physical/mental engagement and natural consequence. The game board in photo 1 offered up 5 pitches of largely M6 terrain (including one 90 meter micro trax pitch to hit a solid anchor). From the top dot we were able to pendulum (rappel and swing) into the main ice hose we were gunning for. Although at the time we had no idea if the white line we had seen from a half mile out with the scope was ice or unconsolidated snow. Jackson took over as we got into the icey cleft, and dispatched 4 rope stretching pitches with confidence (AI6,AI6+,AI5,AI5) to get us to the second hanging snowfield. Each time I heard the crack of his pick into solid névé it was hard to not let out an audible cheer. It wasn’t until I seconded these pitches I realized the past vertical and at times spooky hollow nature of the feature. Due to our late start from drying out our sleeping bags in the morning sun, we hit the next snowfield as twilight moved in and clouds from the south spilled into the gorge and overtook us. Weather updates were calling for cold temps and a few inches of snow overnight with clearing in the morning. With nearly 2,000’ of terrain overhead, all of which was at least 60 degrees we anchored into the most sheltered spot we could find. Then accepted we were in for a night to remember… #adventure #explore #alaska #mountains #ruthgorge #mountdickey #wearebeal #heretocreate #climbing #alpine #alpinism #glaciers #ice #alpineclimbing #newrouting #weclimbforspeed
Day 3 started about an hour after day 2 ended. In an effort to have smaller packs on route Alan and I had left the tent and brought a small tarp instead figuring that if shit hit the fan we could drape it over ourselves. The forecast that night was for a couple inches of snow, we spent the night soaked and chilled to the core getting hit by more spindrifts then I want to try and remember. In the morning when the sun came out and the last of the snow shed from the terrain above us we started back up the ice chimney excited to get moving and thaw out from a miserable night. From our bivy Alan lead another block of 4 incredible ice pitches, I took the next block with the aim of getting us to the top of the chimney and insight of the summit. Finally out of the chimney we were out of the frying pan and into the fire, the final jog to the summit consisted of waste deep facets and less then inspiring gear. Alan dispatched it in two long simul blocks until we finally pulled into the summit ridge and had a nice sunny walk to the summit. We spent a couple minutes tired on the summit before we descended down the west face of Dickey and back to base camp were we discovered ravens had once again raided our camp. All in all the climbing on this route was some of the best I’ve ever done and I’m very happy to have been able to share it with such a talented and motivated climber. We’d been in Alaska for less then 5 days and had already put up an awesome new route now we had 2 weeks left to try and find stuff to entertain ourselves with. “Ruth Gorge Grinder AI6+ M7 5000’” FA April 3-5 2019 @blackdiamond @gnarlynutrition