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Pioneer Peak North Face

  • Needs a date

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  • Anyone been on the north face lately? I've been researching everything I can on this climb--the Alaska climbing guide and a few websites/trip reports. It would be my first real Alaskan climb.

    To give some details about my experience level: since arriving last June I've scrambled up Flap Top, Mile High pass numerous times (practically my back yard), and Mt Magnificent. I climbed w/ the MCA last Sep during the Ice Fest and did the Beginner Ice series with Ascending Path this winter. I have practical experience ice climbing on WI3 and even some mock leading. We also delved into repelling and anchors as well.

    Having said all that, I'm looking for a bit more challenging objective with more experienced climbers. I have basic mountaineering equipment--axe, boots, harness, crampons, helmet, all clothing, pack, cordellettes, some runners, belay devices, biners, and an ice screw. I am still slowly gathering equipment. I don't have any protection (except one screw), a rope (yet), or ice tools (yet).

    I've been eyeballing the weather, forecasts and obviously time of year for such a climb. I'd like to do a bit of a reconnaissance look at the peak fairly soon, so that's why I'm inquiring here...I flew by it a week ago, but it was a bit hard to really check it out from 10,000+ feet.

    Anyone looking to tackle such an objective this season?

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  • Neil M

    I can't get it on my schedule till mid September. Any tips for that time of year? Can I still make it up the North Face, or do I have to come over from the South Peak?

    July 12

  • Rudy B.

    I'm going to be arriving in Palmer this fall for a three month work assignment. I'm trying to figure out what routes can be tackled in September and October. Also, should I bring any trad gear (like cams) with me? It sounds from the comments below like people mostly only recommend screws and slings.

    I'm interested in finding people who would like to undertake trips like the one described above while I'm in Alaska. Please message me if you want to plan something this fall!

    June 22

  • Andrew

    What is this route like early season (now)? Too much rockfall danger?

    October 17, 2014

  • Sonya K.

    Sounds like a great climb, and it would be even better if there's a chance of adding in a couple pitches of WI 3 or 4. Regardless, I'm definitely interested. I have the experience and most of the gear needed, and what I'm lacking I'll certainly have by April. Will be in Nepal for March, and I'll plan on being in shape for this. In the meantime--vertical ice, anyone?

    2 · September 18, 2012

  • Kevin D.

    Hello JP, sorry for the slow reply. I thought I might get out a do a little recon on similar aspect of other peaks. You are right; too much snow and it is completely isothermic. My friends who have made mid summer climbs on the N, Face of Pioneer dealt with a lot less snow in the gully. Perhaps later in the summer or more likely next April.

    June 11, 2012

  • JP G.

    Hi Kevin, I think we may have missed the chance this season. The forecast doesn't look good from here on out (imo). Today there is light rain low on the mtn, w/ freeze/thaw conditions and temps 45-46 mid-mtn on Sat. Freezing level is 5600 ft in the a.m. & rises to 6700 ft by the afternoon. Wet/rotten snow seems very likely on crucial parts of the route. Not sure I want to mess w/ that on 50deg snow slopes w/ limited escape options.

    May 31, 2012

  • Kevin D.

    Hello, I have been looking at climbing this peak for the last couple of years. I must be honest in that my focus has been trying to find a climb of the face in April and it hasn't worked out with my schedule. I have some friends from the Mountain rescue group that have climbed the face. I have been told that you have to be careful with avalanche climbing the face in early summer. I would love to talk with you more in regards to making a possible trip. I have all the gear needed an extra.

    May 31, 2012

  • Laron

    this and the last message are jumbled. I'd recommend 2-3 screws, 2 pickets, and some slings. That's all I've ever used in the past. The last time the conditions were good enough that we didn't take out the rope for the ascent at all. But we did 3 rappels (2 from the ridgetop into the gulley, and 1 down the lower icefall). Last time it took 5:45 up and 3:15 down, the first time it took me 17 hours round trip. I prefer a mountain axe and that's all I've needed, but an extra tool would be ok too.

    May 16, 2012

  • Laron

    Also, I wanted to mention that there are great front range peaks that can prepare you for such a route technically and physically-Williwas SW gulley, S. Suicide from Falls Creek, Homicide Pk from Indian among many others.

    May 15, 2012

  • Laron

    We brought a 60m rope, 2 pickets, and 2 screws, but didn't use them on the ascent. We did 3 rappels on the descent. 2 from the ridgetop and one through the waterfall low on the route. It took us 5:45 on the way up and 3:15 on the way down for 9 hours total. The first time through deep powder, it took us 17 hours total. We also used pickets and slings.

    May 15, 2012

  • Laron

    JP, I felt fine with a mountaineer's axe, which I prefer for the terrain on the route. However, a tool and an axe could be helpful based on your personal preferences. No real need for a tool on the route, except maybe right at the top of the face where you gain the ridge, and then only if it was really icy. A light mixed rack would probably be helpful. A couple screws, pickets, and some slings oughta do fine. (lots of good horns to sling)

    May 15, 2012

  • JP G.

    Thanks Laron! Can you give me some beta on gear/pro you brought--what you used and didn't use? How long did your ascent and descent take? Did the mixed section require ice tools and a light mixed rack? Obviously I won't be attempting unless I can get some other, bigger fish to bite and go with me :) definitely a huge step up for me.

    May 14, 2012

  • Laron

    The rock along the ridge is challenging Class 4 Chugach crud. However you can go around and crampon up a snow slope up to the ridge.
    It sounds like the route will be quite a step up from what you've done in the past. If you go, get a super early start and make sure you can downclimb whatever you climb up. Best wishes!

    May 14, 2012

  • Laron

    JP, it's a super classic climb, but you better be in shape for it as you'll gain close to 6400ft, the peak's elevation. I've climbed the route twice to the summit. Once about 6 years ago and once this year. We climbed the route 2 weeks ago and we found snow conditions like concrete with a little bit of powder over top of it all the way up to summit ridge. Great for cramponing and going fast.

    Most of the route is moderate snow with tiny mixed section and the top out up to the ridge is 55-60deg

    May 14, 2012

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    I am 29 years old, moved to Alaska from Colorado in July!

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