Thursday, May 14, 2009


Sept 12th 2009: SLIDE SHOWS
Again Join Mark Allen and Seth Hobby for a Multimedia experience to celebrate the worlds undiscovered Mountains.
Mark Allen, Philippe, and Seth Hobby
Free with donations to Band and Beer
Start Time:
Saturday, September 12, 2009 at 6:00pm
End Time:
Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 2:00am
HY 20
Mazama, WA



Seth, Philippe, and I will be hosting a party of slide shows, socalizing, and music in the North Cascades Methow Valley. It's been too long since we have seen all of you so lets get together and celebrate!

MARK ALLEN and PHILIPPE WHEELOCK will be giving a slide show on their trip to the Ruth Gorge. SETH HOBBY will share some highlights of climbing Norway's Ice and his New Company Northern Alpine Guides.

After the show DJ Travis Smith will spin records until the wee hours of the morn lubrication provided the Methow Valley Brewing Co.
This has rocked in the past and it will continue to keep rocking. Don't miss out, I always hear about it when you do. Don't cry in your beer later when you can drink with us!


May 14th, 2009:

We called TAT for a pick up today. With Ben Kurdt's injuries I am without another partner and have to cut the trip short by 10 days. Lots of bacon left over but the whiskey is all gone. Must be time to leave! Philippe's ranger duties are calling him back to the Rainier National Park on the 18th. So that’s a wrap. Thanks for staying tuned in. I hope you enjoyed us sharing our trip with you and that you will join us again next time. I will be posting more photos in the coming days that correspond with past posts so come back and check it out in a few days, Cheers and safe climbing. Off to Talkeetna and Muskox burgers at the West Rib!

Classic scene of plane day-picknickers from Wassilla at the Mountain House Landing Strip. They too can see Russia from their house but did not sell there plane on e-bay.

May 13th, 2009:
11,300 TOP OUT !! 26 HOUR PUSH

Mark Allen self picture on summit of 11,300

WE pulled it off!! We snuck in our last great climb just in time and we did very well. We are back in the Mountain House Base camp after a successful climb and summit of the Southwest Ridge of peak 11,300. A great goal met as being one of the prized peaks of the Ruth Gorge and one of the main targets on the trip.
This steep alpine ridge runs from the West Fork of the Ruth Glacier at 6,900ft up to the summit ridge at 11,300ft. The length of the ridge is roughly 5500ft and the majority of it was steep snow/ice and rock at a moderate level of difficulty with several distinct cruxes of pure rock climbing, ice climbing, or a mixture of the two. On summit day we simul-climbed the lower half of the ridge in 4 hours. Only a few cruxes of 5.7 were met and they were 30-60 meter pitches with full belays. We took a long break at the "First Col" at the ridge's 1/3 point at 8,900ft. After this Col the climbing greatly improved in difficulty and turned into long simul-climbing stretches of steep snow and moderate ice climbing M2 AI3. (5.6 WI2-3)

Team simul climbing the S-Couloirs on the upper mountain lots of WI 3 with moderate mixed sections, yet limited gear

One of the many classicly freaky mushroom ridges with no pro but the belay

The climbing was good and we now had an Alpine feel only experienced in Alaska. The route did not let up and the majority of the cruxes unfolded higher on the ridge. After more long ice climbing stretches the ridge narrowed to a long steep corniced ridge for several hundred feet. Protection was limited and the terrain snagging the rope became our only protection from a fall. Large car and house sized cornices overhung the North side. "I'll jump off this side and you off the it?" was one of the conversations we had at one point. After the mushroom ridge we engaged several full 60M mixed cruxes up to 5.7-5.8 in difficulty around 10,000ft.

Mark Allen leads the last mixed 5.8 crux on the upper ridge before the summit spine climb.

THe upper technical sections proved to be spicy and fun pitches unique in character and good protection. After all the hard climbing was in the past the 700ft of 60-degree snow climbing on the summit spine remained to drain us down. The last bits to the summit seemed to take forever…but then it was over. Amazingly it was the snow climbing that seemed to be the most difficult because it would not protect. It was a lot of heads-up-no-fall climbing.
We had a perfect day and the views of Huntington, Denali, Mooses Tooth, and Dan Beard were to die for. I thought I was in the Himalaya. We summited at the same time as the Japanese Team, toping out 12 hours after leaving our camp. On the summit we busted out the stove and brewed up some chicken soup and Ramen. But we were only half way...Summit shots and down.
THe descent was super involved. We down climbed a 3/4 kilometers long corniced ridge that dropped off dramatically on either side. After several hours of down climbing and rappelling of V-threads, we reached a rock ridge which took 10 steep rappels to reach the lower alpine glacier and walk off descent.

Philippe down climbs the descent ridge keeping a close eye on his van sized cornices.

After reaching the glacier and making good time down, darkness fell. Navigation became challenging. The middle section of the glacier turned into an icefall with massive crevasses. The snow proved not to be supportive and Philippe and I both took two alarming crevasse falls. This forced us to dig in Belays and pitch out the glacier for a 1,000 lateral feet for five 200ft pitches. This glacier provided the most challenging glacier conditions I have ever crossed. No mistakes allowed.
We finally reached our tent after 26 hours of climbing. We agreed we were tired but not worked. We had a shot of whiskey and our favorite post climb dinner of Annie’s Mac and Jimmy Dean! It was in the bag and we fell asleep with satisfaction.

Bottoms up with a BV in AK!

MAy 11, 2009:

We are posted up at the base of the SW Ridge of Peak 11,300. High pressure for the next 72hrs! Looks like it's in good shape so we are hopeful. We are all pumped up for a good climb and a completed summit again. 5000ft long rock and ice ridge with several technical pitches up to 5.8 AI4. Looks as if there are long corniced ridges we will have to deal with. We are going for it in a single push. Looking to have it rapped up in 20hrs instead of taking a tent like most parties. Our packs are small we will take a stove and a few Ramens for a brew up or two. Looks like the Japanese are working there way a day a head of us up to the second bivi. We hope to pass them in the morning. Wish us luck... looks like a wonderful climb.

MAY 10, 2009:

We attempted the East Face of the Dan Beard. Avalanches on the route kept us from starting the line safely. We were 500ft below the first technical ice pitch. The route looked to be in good shape and one of the better lines in the area. "It is what it is". We returned to the Mountain House base camp after the 6 hr ordeal. We will repack and move to an Advanced Base camp for the SW ridge of Peak 11,300. "We have 5 days left so we need to use them on a classic! this route is one of the best in the area...looking forward to it!"

Philippe low on the first attempt of the East Face of 11,300 on entrence slopes that proved to be steeper mixed climbing

MAY 9, 2009:
Mark's report via satphone: A front moved in at about 6:30pm on the 4th and upset our departure plans, so we spent the next 3 days camped out in tent city with snow and poor visibility. On the night of May 7th we left camp at midnight and climbed for 2 hours across the amphitheater to the base of the East face of Peak 11300. The route started at about 6,000 feet and consists of about 3,000 feet of exposed, technical terrain. We climbed up the entrance couloir for 600 feet which was a super steep, exposed ramp of unconsolidated snow which we protected with rock gear. We had some route finding issues and many traverses before reaching the couloir.
Philippe getting pulling out snow after the first crux at about mid elevation of the wall and headed for the second choke, at this time we were entering the objective hazard of the second sarac. The exposure would last about 45min

With the start of the route more difficult than we had anticipated, we were already 2 hours behind schedule. Once in the couloir, we were exposed to a cerac above and were climbing as fast as we could to get out of the hangfire. There were several pitches of steep snow alternating with ice. The first crux was about an Alpine Ice 4, M4 and the second was about a WI5+.

Approaching the 2 pitch crux of the new line. THis is what would determine if we continued or not

Philippe going to battle on the WI5+ crux. It was in the next 10 feet that would indicated the route was not in safe condition for climbing this year

After 20 pitches and 2500 feet of technical climbing, we unfortunately reached a section of 60 feet of vertical ‘cool-whip’ – unconsolidated snow and ice on rock – and decided it was too dangerous to continue. We rappelled and down-climbed in the heat of the day (which was about 15 degrees warmer than we anticipated) and got back to camp at approximately 7:30pm on the 8th. Today we are resting and tomorrow night we plan to leave at midnight to check out a first ascent opportunity of an ice climb on a tower of Dan Beard. Will keep you posted!

Red line shows Allen-Wheelock 17 hour attempt on May 9th 2009
Blue line shows option right first climbed the same week by the British. We call this line "Roulette" because of the sarac hazards lurking above.

MAY 4, 2009:

Mark's report via satphone: After crossing the amphitheatre yesterday and scouting out the Dan Beard, we noticed a large active serac hanging above our intended route. As an alternate plan, we have identified a couloir on Peak 11300 that climbs straight up and left on the East face. The base of the route was clear today, however the top was whited out. We plan to leave tonight at 11pm and attempt a first ascent of the route. We will give an update as soon as we get back to base camp!

MAY 2, 2009:

Mark’s report via satphone: After the ice accident, (Ben's report below) Ben gave an all-star effort on the decent and was adamant about self evacuation. After dropping him at the air strip, Phillipe and I descended to base camp which was a surreal experience with a missing partner and all the extra gear. We rested and recovered at camp on the 30th. On May 1st we left base camp at 1am and again climbed the Root Canal glacier to reach the base of the route 'Shaken, Not Stirred' at 4:30am. The climbing conditions were excellent, and Phillipe made the crux look effortless! We reached the summit of the Moose’s Tooth by 11:00am, were back to advanced base camp by 3:30pm, and back to base camp by 10pm. Today, we are resting and enjoying pancakes and whiskey. Tomorrow we will go on a reconnaissance tour to check out the Dan Beard. We have high pressure for the next 5 days!

APRIL 30,2009:

Hey all,
Mark, Phillipe, and I were flown into the Ruth Gorge on the 27th of April. The Mountain House glacier airstrip/camp was going to be our home for 26 days. The springboard for all our adventures in the magnificent place that the Ruth Gorge is. So, we set up a sweet base camp and made first and second dinner. We then set our sights on the Shaken, Not Stirred route on the Moose's Tooth. This is a classic route and perfect to get on to cut our teeth in the Ruth. We spent the balence of the evenong talking gear and preparing for an early start.

Ben Kurdt starting out the day with easy climbing up to the steep walls of the Mooses Tooth

On the morning of the 28th we were roped up for glacier travel and on our way. We set up an advanced base camp at the base of the Root Canal, scouted our route thru the broken glacier for the following morning and got in the bags by 5:30pm. We got up at 11pm and were walking at 12:15am. It was a pretty warm night so we were moving pretty well. We made it to the base of the route in 4 hrs and I roped up for the first block of leading. Right out of the gate it was fun climbing with some M4 moves and delaminated/hollow ice (like climbing drywall).

Ben Kurdt leads WI4 pitches on pitch 4 getting pelted by "be-be" spin drift the entire pitch.

We were not moving quite as fast as we were hoping to, but we were sussing out our systems pretty quickly and tweeking it to make it faster and we were picking up speed. Before we knew it we were 2200+ feet up the route on pitch 11 in the "Narrows" and approaching the crux of the route. Mark was nearing the end of his block of leading and I was belaying him in the tight slot which was exposed to icefall.

Mark Allen belays Ben Kurdt and Phillippe Wheelock in the "Narrows" one pitch before the accident.

Mark was appoaching the top of his pitch, while tring to avoid a fragile dinner plate (peice of ice that exfoliates when you swing your tool into it's vacinity). He was unable to avoid knocking it with his crampon and in doing so he sent it down. He yelled, "Ice, Ice, Ice"!. I was looking down at that moment and had to make a split second decision. I knew that what was coming down was big so I wanted to avoid it and looking up to spot it so I could dodge it. I made the call to glance up and as soon as I did it smashed me in the face. It did not take too long to figure out that I had a pretty good laceration on my face. Mark rappelled down and Phillipe wrapped me up. They acted very quickly and before I knew it we had rappelled the 11 or so raps to the bottom. And a 15 minute walk from the base of the climb and we were at the Root Canal camp/glacial airstrip.

By 3:30ish I was soaring over the Ruth Gorge amazed with my head spinning. It was day 3 of a 26 day trip. A trip of a lifetime. Hmmm...It is what it is. I am alive and well and of a very positive mindset. Now I am headed to NY to have my plastic surgeon rebuild my nose. Life is good!

Ben Kurdt self-evacuating from pitch 11 on the Mooses Tooth

Mark and Phillipe are still in the Ruth Gorge and are continuing with the trip. I wish them the very best and hope that do indeed have their trip of a lifetime. We should have an update from them soon. Stay tuned... -Ben

Fred Beckey and Mark Allen having a laugh in camp
Additional Note: We ran into an old friend on the Root Canal Air Strip. Fred Beckey at 85 years was there with a young buck entourage gearing up to make a go at Ham and Eggs the 15 pitch moderate ice route that takes you to the East Summit of Mooses Tooth. It's always good to see Fred getting after it. He is checking up on us, seeing what the Alpine world is up to and currently working on a new Book. He has a few AK classics that he is show casing which was the main purpose of the visit. Good Luck Fred

APRIL 27, 2009:

Sweet! High Pressure for the next 72hrs. We are swapping sneakers for mountain boots and changing gears to Alpine mode. We are flying along with several groups that have been waiting for several days. We fly into the Mountain House Base Camp this morning. Our Friends Addin and Dylan are flying in the same plane into to the Tokasitna Glacier to climb Mt. Huntington. Looks like with our loads we will be taking the TAT Turbo Otter (their largest most powerful plane) to deal with the new snow from this latest storm. So here begins expedition. Wish us luck and stay tuned.

APRIL 26, 2009:

After 2 days of travel and packing, we are now weighed in with Talkeetna Air Taxi with our 480lbs of personal and team gear, food, and fuel for our 30 day expedition into the Ruth Glacier (we had to cut the second bottle of Mrs. Butterworth and half gallon of Pace Picante). We are having a minor delay with foul weather and deep snow conditions on the glacial landing strip, are queued to fly in. Paul Roderick, our pilot, hopes to have us in on Monday. For now we are enjoying our time in the gateway town of Talkeetna, “The quiet little drinking town with a climbing problem.”

On Monday our plan is to fly into the Mountain House landing strip at the base of the West Face of Mt. Barrill (see map below). This camp is equidistant from all our objectives, for the most part. After digging-in we plan to pack sleds and ski down glacier to the Ruth Gorge and make an Advance Base Camp below the East face of Mt. Dickey. From here we will launch an attempt on the Mooses Tooth via a route “Shaken Not Stirred” V M4 AI5 and summit the West Peak. From our ABC this approach takes us across the Ruth Gorge and up the Root Canal Glacier, the base of the ice system. This climb will yield approximately 11 km of glacial travel and 5400ft of vertical gain (3100ft of which is on technical terrain). But for now our first goal is to get out of Talkeetna.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


*Eamonn on the crux pitch of "Once Were Warrior's", Westman-Walsh put up on the Northeast face of Mt. Grosvenor in 2005.
~Photo Mark Westman

Expedition Location: Ruth Gorge, Central Alaska Range, Alaska USA
Date of Expedition: April 25 through May 26
Expedition Climbers: Mark Allen, Ben Kurdt, Phillip Wheelock

Contact: ;
PO BOX 1004 Winthrop WA 98862;
Tell: 360-305-2383

*North Buttress of the Rooster Comb, a stellar line on an awesome peak not far away. In 2004, Westmna- Aylward atttempt

The Ruth Gorge in the Central Alaska Range has been in the center of alpinist activity in North America. It is this venue we seek mixed alpine objectives while establishing new routes on major peaks.

*The West Face of the Mosses Tooth in the Ruth Gorge Alaska Range

We are dedicating five weeks during prime Alpine season to accomplish our target objectives climb three main goals: Peak 11,300, Mooses Tooth (10,335ft), and Mount Dan Beard (10,260ft). All of these peaks yield steep alpine ice and mixed climbs of classic nature of Alaska Grade V AI 3-5 M3-5. We will approach each climb with fast and light single-push alpine style. Our primary objective is establishing a new route on Dan Beard. This massive granite. This prize is highly neglected with only one attempt at AI 5 M4 without success due to time, conditions, and weather.
*Mark Allen Climbing in Ouray CO~Photo

* Climbers approach the Mosses Tooth via the Ruth Amphitheater
Our strategy is to team up in Ouray, CO for February 09’ then take our systems back to Washington into the North Cascades. This April we will acclimate to the Alaska range on the classic established routes on Mooses Tooth Shaken Not Stirred grade V AI 5 and Peak 11,300 South West Ridge grade V AI3 M4 before going after our big line on Dan Beard. We wish to have your support in helping us achieve these goals.

BLACK DIAMOND and MAXIM are our two main sponsors for this climb. They are providing us will the gear that we will be using duirng our ascents. Without there support our climbing would not be possible. Please go to OUR SPONSORS bellow to be linked to their products.

*Mountaineers Seattle Seattle, WA
*Feathered Friends Seattle, WA
*Fall Mountain Festival Mazama, WA
*Western Washington University Bellingham, WA
*Alaska Pacific University Anchorage, AK
*Desert Mountain Sports Las Vegas, NV
*Mazamas Portland, OR
*IMG Headcourters Ashford, WA
*Community Theater Ouray CO


Ben Kurdt ~ 30 Central Cascades, WA Mountain Guide
Ben cut his teeth in the mountains of New England and Washington State. Now he is a fulltime Lead Guide for International Mountain Guides. His expeditions have taken him to Alaska, Tibet, Nepal, Antarctica, Ecuador, and the Andes. A quiet hard man having many technical ascents on ice and rock through out the US and Canada. Ben’s strengths are geared towards hard technical climbing( putting up the rope), and team promotion.

Mark Allen~30 North Cascades, WA Mountain Guide Mark has many published first ascents in the North Cascades on Rock and Alpine. His climbing Expeditions have taken him to Patagonia Argentina and Chile, Costal and Rockies Canada, Central AK Range Alaska, New Zealand, China, Nepal, and Antarctica. Mark is a fulltime Lead Guide and Director of Expeditions NorthWest L.L.C. based in Washington and is a certified with the AMGA. Mark strengths are dealing with strategies on big alpine routes, ski descents, expedition logistics, and team promotion.

Philippe Wheelock ~ 35 Boulder, CO National Park Service Climbing Ranger
Philippe is a professional climbing ranger on Mt. Rainier. He has been climbing rock, ice, alpine and big wall style for 10 years with first ascents from Colorado to India. He led expeditions to Patagonia, Kyrgyzstan, Peru, and across North America. Philippe excels at the steep scary mixed leads nobody else wants while exploring the limit.