Graham and I have just returned to Talkeetna after spending a fun-filled ten days in the Revelation mountains. This remote range, on the far southwest end of the Alaska range, has been visited a few times in Spring season, and climbers have returned with stories of amazingly huge mixed lines and perfect “Jtree” white granite. We had found almost no information on summertime rock climbing activity in the range, so we were excited to make a reconnaissance mission and see what these mountains could offer.
We flew in with Talkeetna Air Taxi on their new R44 Helicopter piloted by Will Boardman. Lack of snow for a ski-plane landing made the helicopter essential, so we’re very thankful to Will and TAT for their help. It should be mentioned that landing a helicopter in Denali National Park is illegal, but the Revelations are outside of the park. It was TAT’s first helicopter insertion for a climbing trip.
During the hour and a half ride into the range, during which we saw no roads and few signs of human life, we got a visceral feel for the scale and isolation of Alaska. Once the drone of the chopper faded, and Graham and I were left on the glacier with our gear, we'd entered our own little mountain kingdom, sole rulers and inhabitants.
Once we had gotten a feel for our realm, we realized that we were camped directly underneath the most enticing objective: the East Buttress of the Angel!
We began climbing on July 13th, starting up a beautiful granite wall with cracks and corners aplenty. 600 meters of quality rockclimbing, with difficulties up to 5.10, filled most of our day. Everything was climbed onsight and followed free. We were stoked to find a perfect bivy spot on the ridge, where we set up our comfy little tent and sheltered from a passing squall. After a few hours of rest during the midnight sun we began climbing again surrounded by blue skies! A low cloud layer below us brought the surrounding peaks, jutting through, into beautiful relief.
Another 500 meters of classic ridge terrain separated us from the summit, and we occasionally donned crampons to navigate snow and ice while simulclimbing. At this point we shared terrain with the 1985 ascent of the Southeast Buttress made by Greg Collins and Tom Walter (full history below).
Reaching the summit midday, we paused to remember our friend Zach Orman, who passed away earlier this year in a paragliding accident. We miss you Zach!
We descended to the North and then rappelled 600m down the Eastern aspect of the North Ridge to a hanging glacier which we able to mostly walk down back to the main Revelations Glacier.
After this point our options became extremely limited due to multiple core shots in our ropes and terrible weather. On the 21st of July we flew out of the range after five days of being pinned down in heavy rain and wind.
Huge thanks goes to the Mugs Stump Award for it’s generous support, as well as the New Zealand Alpine Club’s Expedition Fund.
Scott Bennett[gallery link="file" ids="5432,5433,5434,5435"]