Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mt. Osborne Pilgrimmage

Mt. Osborne, 4704-- last saturday, Chris Miller (aka "the dentist") and I attempted Osborne-  this photo shows our high point, plus the definitive summit of the mountain-  if you are thinking of attempting Osborne and you care about which tor is the true summit, study the picture carefully-  that's about 3500 ft. of mountain there...

  here is the image savagely mangled the image by drawing the little lines of ascent i have made on the hill over the years, the ravages of ego...  the E. Face had some WI2 and M3 when Phil and I did it, 11 hours, i think--  and, i was up on that Northeast Ridge (the "4-20 Arete," 'cause i climbed it on 04-20-'06) for 7 hours tip-toeing around on alpine ice (Mikey Lean and I having nearly climbed the Northeast Ridge a month earlier in a 21 hour tour de force)...    

 confusion exists over the true summit of Osborne- the summit ridge is a long line of marble tors, running north-south, like a fence-  the mountain has been climbed many times in Nome's hundred-year history, but who was the first may never be known.... many locals say they have "climbed Osborne," when in fact they only reached the summit ridge, without bothering to ascend the alpha tor-  (but if they tell you someone has snow-machined up to the summit ridge, that's probably true...)

  the most massive of the summit tors looks like the highest in the picture, but it's not-  i call it the "Penultimate Pinnacle" which i ascended in 2001 with ropes and chocks, finding it to be about 5.6 on the south side  (Roman Dial may or may not have soloed in the '90s)--  thinking it to be the summit of Osborne, i was surprised to see, off to the north, one of the lumpier tors appearing to be about 10 ft. higher--  darkness was falling on a September evening, i had no time to traverse the  class 3 or 4 slopes over to this tor, so i retreated (and spent the night siwashing in Grand Central Valley under the northern lights next to a fire of beautiful california redwood, leftover timber from a mining ditch...)

finally made it over to the alpha tor with Nils Hahn a few years later, and have reached it several times since then, in alpine conditions (though never before March 21st, so there you go!  i have reason to believe Chris and mine would have been a FWA)-  you bypass the big tor (Penultimate) and work across  45° slopes-  the highest tor is not very craggy, with a few moves, Class 4 at best-  in winter conditions, a different story-  Chris and i were happy to be wearing the ropes, the slopes were perfectly icy, one mistake and you'd be off like a rocket-

in summer, most people can make it up to the high point without a rope, no problem-  who really cares which tor is the high point anyway?  one of these days i'll have to haul a transit up there, but even then, we're all out of here in a geological second, Osborne included...

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