Marc Toralles and Bru Busom have made the 10th ascent of the Slovak Direct on Denali, one of the world’s most-climbed extreme alpine routes. The 3,000-metre route is graded VI 5.9X M6 WI6.
The monster route was climbed last spring by Chantel Astorga and Anne Gilbert Chase and was first climbed in 1984 by Blažej Adam, Tono Križo and František Korl.
Toralles and Busom climbed the route in epic conditions and reported some climbing up to M8. Watch the short video below. The following is their trip report.
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Així et queda la cara després de donar-ho tot per escalar un desplom de WI6 de gel amb una motxilla d'uns 15Kg a l'esquena a 5000m… Así te queda la cara, despues de darlo todo, al escalar un desplome de WI6 de hielo con una mochila de unos 15Kg en la espalda a 5000m… @blackdiamond @campbaseoutdoor @esolympus @esportivaaksa @julbo_eyewear @kopdegas @twonav_official @clubalpinobarcelon #liveclimbrepeat #climbing_pictures_of_instagram #climbing_is_my_passion #climbing #alpinism #alpinismo #mountains #mountaineering #alaska #denali #iceclimbing #mixedclimbing #spindrift #snow #olympus #tg5 #cold #mountain #friends #glacier #ice #glaciar #weather #alpinismecatalunya #alpinisme #tradclimbing #adventure
Slovak Direct in 2019
“We are in Talkeetna, devastated waiting for our luggage .. We’ve been waiting for four days now; if it does not arrive tomorrow we are leaving.” This is how our expedition began. But the duffle arrived, and with it all the motivation we needed. We knew we had possibilities so it didn’t matter how small the window of good weather was, we would make the most of it.
Our goal was to climb the Slovak Direct, on the south face of Denali. We began acclimatization and in a week we made it to the summit via the Orient Express. We felt strong and motivated, and we firmly believed in our possibilities.
Two days of bad weather helped us rest and prepare the logistics for the climb of the south face. 3 day forecasts are unreliable so we had to flip a coin … and it came up heads. The next day, at dawn, we left; backpacks and food for five days. The approach via the Seattle Ramp was complex due to the recent snowfalls that completely covered the cracks.
We had to open the route throughout the day, which made us arrive at the base of the wall more fatigued than we expected. One last weather check confirmed the arrival of strong winds over 40 miles by the third day. We accepted the challenge. It took us 9 hours to climb to the first snowdrift. We found the route with little ice and 20cm of fresh snow, which resulted in a very laborious climb and of difficult protection.
Arriving at the bivouac, it began to snow, accumulating 15cm of fresh snow. Luckily, we found shelter in a bergschrund that protected us from the continuous snow slides that fell throughout the night.
On the second day we faced the most complex part of the route. We waded through waist deep snow and endured the constant sluffs, pitch after pitch. Even so, it was one of the best climbing days of our lives. We found sections of snow, mixed and ice that moved us for their beauty and challenge. The day ended in one of the most breathtaking bivouacs we have ever done.
The third day started with the key pitch of our ascent. Carrying little equipment made free climbing for the leader too exposed, which forced us to climb demanding sections without much protection. The second could free the pitch confirming the grade M8.
The following pitches were of great quality and asked for a very technical and cold headed climbing, which added to the recent snow and large sluffs, were the most tense moments of the climb. Coming out of the mixed sections, it snowed again. Faced with the impossibility of a retreat, we continued to climb enduring the strong snow slides until the last wall, where due to bad visibility and not finding the route, we opened a variant of M6 exposed. At the end of the day we reached the snow ramps with the Cassin Ridge where we untied and found a good bivouac.
The freezing temperatures and the altitude, added to the wet sleeping bags, promised a very hard night. In the morning we got up with the sun. We had 1000m of easy terrain ahead to the summit. The fatigue and the large amount of snow accumulated, made the day harder than expected. At 7 pm we reached the summit exhausted, but happy to have achieved this great challenge. Only the 1,800 metres of known descent separated us from the dreamed spaghetti with bacon. -Bru Busom and Marc Toralles
Slovak Direct Ascents
1984: Blažej Adam, Tono Križo and František Korl
2000: Kevin Mahoney and Ben Gilmore
2000: Scott Backes, Steve House and Mark Twight
2008: Katsutaka Yokoyama, Yusuke Sato and Fumitaka Ichimura
2010: Jesse Huey and Mark Westman
2013: Andy Houseman and Nick Bullock
2013: Rémi Sfilio and Helias Millerioux
2017: David Bacci and Luca Moroni
2018: Chantel Astorga and Anne Gilbert Chase
2019: Bru Busom and Marc Toralles