Spot the climber! Mountaineer blends in with cliffs despite wearing bright clothing
Spot the climber! It’ll take a sharp eye to suss this mountaineer from the craggy cliff face that he’s scaling.
Will Sim and Jon Griffith were spotted making the first ascent of a new route on the North West face of Mount Deborah, Alaska, which they have since nicknamed Bad to the Bone.
The friends decided to make the climb after Will read about the 1978 North Face expedition of Mount Deborah and the 1982 first ascent of its East Ridge, before looking for previously unclimbed sections of the eastern Hayes range.
While the pair had initially planned to take a ski plane to the Gillam Glacier before making their ascent, it wasn’t until the morning of the climb that they weather conditions would make it impossible and instead had to helicopter to their start point.
But after a three day, 2000m climb, the intrepid adventurers finally completed their climb, despite several avalanche scares along the way.
Will said: “The climb itself was one of the hardest three days either of us have spent in the mountains, and the face was undoubtedly the spookiest and most unnerving thing I’ve ever been on.
“Two big avalanches came very close to us as we were crossing a bergschrund. We very nearly bailed there and then, and perhaps should have. This left a very bad taste for the rest of the face.
“That face is not somewhere I’d like to go back to in a hurry. When it comes alive it’s a really serious place to be.
“Summit day was really wild. Huge cornice ridges with very strong wind. It felt a bit never-ending but a whole load safer than the day before.
“Alaska is America’s last frontier. The whole place has a frontier feel to it, and especially so if you step off the normal track of climbers going to the central ranges such as Denali.
“It’s possible to find faces in Alaska as big as those on Asian mountains, but without altitude issues. That means you can make a shorter trip – three or four weeks rather than five or six – but still get a big dose of adventure.
“When I first saw the northwest face of Mount Deborah on Google Earth I thought it was really beautiful in its symmetry.
“I find aesthetics maybe the single biggest attraction when looking at objectives. If it looks cool, I want to climb it. Jon didn’t take much persuading to come on board.”