I posted a congrads to the climbers earlier on the blog. And I was sincere. Some obviously hard climbing was done in bad conditions.
But am I the only one who has to wonder? The Wall of Shadows on Hunter (FA 1994) was repeated in alpine style on the 2nd ascent (2001) without a portaledge ledge?
"The Wall of Shadows (VI 5.9 M7 95 degree ice/mixed) on the north face of Mt. Hunter's north buttress, which received its second ascent in 2001 by Kevin Mahoney and Ben Gilmore,"
Jon Bracey and Rich Cross in 2004 repeated, "A Pair of Jacks" (VI M6 WI5+, 6,000') on the northwest face of Mt. Kennedy without a ledge. It too was first done in 1996 in capsule style with a ledge.
"The soaring tower stands prominent above Kahiltna Base Camp. Even an untrained eye may notice the thin ribbons of ice intertwining down sheer granite cliff bands and buttresses. These are the natural passageways that allow modern alpinists to ascend the intimidating buttress. Climbers attempting the route are on center stage for gawkers at the airstrip. The Park Service often has a high power telescope trained on the North Buttress so curious onlookers can track their progress. The remains of an old porta-ledge used on the first ascent of the Wall of Shadows can still be seen dangling above the Third Ice Band." SUPERTOPO
Bracey has also done a alpine ascent of the North Buttress Gully on Hunter previous. No question he has paid his dues there.
The actual first ascent of the North Buttress was done by Doug Klewin and Todd Bibler without a ledge.
Two other more recent climbs on Hunter worth looking at:
DOES STYLE MATTER?
Looking down from the first rock band on what would later become Deprivation..1979.
Style matters if you care about it or care what other people think about what you do in the mountains. The mountains are full of fast and light alpinists wearing go pros and preparing their press releases the minute they get off of a climb. For some it is how they pay for their climbs, for some it is even their livelihood and others the celebrity is a big part of the draw. Maybe I am just getting older, but I don't really care what other people do as long as it is done with a minimal amount of fixed gear. There are still plenty of blank spaces on the map, you just have to work harder to get there than to "discovered country."
I wish people would give up on the grade and style arguments as they are subjective and irrelevant. We can choose to not follow climbing media and even pay attention to this. The two alpinists in question are fantastically strong climbers and in my brief encounters are pretty nice guys. I think their videos are ridiculous but that is just my opinion. The North Buttress a really fun place to climb, but I've seen nothing that would lead me to believe that anything has been done on it in the last 10 years that could be said to be "visionary."
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