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Kichatna Will Get Every Alpinist Stoked

A new film that documents the first ascent of The Pace of Comfort on Kichatna Spire this spring

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.

The Kichatna Spires are exceptionally steep peaks 150 kilometres west of Denali. In his 1966 report on the spires, the late David Roberts said that “no other area combines heavy glaciation, remoteness and bad weather with such an abundance of vertical walls, pinnacles, and obelisks.” During his 1966 expedition to the area, two of his teammates made the first ascent of the highest peak in the range, the 2,738-metre peak via the East Ridge; they named the mountain Kichatna Spire.

In the years since, first ascents on the peak have represented some of the most technical climbing in the Alaska Range, and only one had ascended the northwest face. This ascent of The Ships Prow by Andrew Embick and Jim Bridwell in 1979 was on the cutting edge of applying Yosemite big wall tactics to the big mountains.

The name The Pace of Comfort comes from a statement made by pilot Paul Roderick when he picked the team up on the glacier. Looking at the weather, he said, “With these kinds of conditions, we’re able to fly at a pace of comfort.” The climbing team felt the same way about their ascent.