Trip Report: The East Face of Golgotha

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This month’s trip report takes place in one of Alaska’s most remote and mythical mountain ranges: The Revelations. First explored in the late 60’s by David Roberts and friends, The Revelations hold a mystique, and reputation, that has continued to grow over the years. The range, which is nestled between the southwest tip of The Alaska Range, and the north and western aspects of the Aleutian, Neacola and the Tordrillo Mountains, is as remote, as it is fierce. The jagged peaks, which average between 7 and 9 thousand feet in height, are an alpine climbers dream, with sweeping granite buttresses, firm gullies of neve snow, and ribbons and shafts of bulletproof ice.

But for every day of good conditions and weather, there’s at least 3 days of worse weather. And by bad I mean never ending rain and snow storms, fog and soupy cloud cover, and relentless, vicious, hurricane-force winds. If that’s not enough, just getting in and out of the range requires multiple bush plane flights, sometimes costing thousands of dollars. That is if you can even find a pilot willing to fly in there (more on that, at the end of this episode). Let’s just say that being a Revelations climber requires a different kind of commitment.

And this was certainly the case for North American alpinists Clint Helander and Andres Marin, who flew into the Revelations this March to attempt the east Face of Golgotha - an unclimbed, 4,000 foot granite face, laced with snow, and pierced by sinister shafts of ice.

The mountain, which clocks in at just under 9,000’, was first climbed in 2012 by Helander and Ben Trocki, when they attempted the east face, but ultimately opted for an easier route up the southeast face. Helander returned in 2016 with Marin, making a tricky landing directly under the face on the aptly named ‘Misfit’ Glacier. But after a day, the snow and wind came, and the duo was nearly killed when a gargantuan avalanche destroyed their camp, forcing them to quiver behind a large, glacial erratic for days until their pilot extracted them to safety.

The duo returned in 2017 - this time with a third - Leon Davis. That year, they made it multiple pitches up the route, finding a massive bivy cave. They also got a look at what appeared to be the crux pitch. An overhanging prow of rock with ice daggers hanging off the top like tentacles of an octopus. But unfortunately, a broken crampon led to an early retreat.

Again, Helander and Marin returned in 2018, but the conditions and vibe weren't right. They decided to fly out.

Finally, in March of this year, Helander and Marin returned for a fourth trip, landing on the more spacious Revelation Glacier, where they made a basecamp. The duo then traveled over a col, and rappeled onto the Misfit Glacier, where they were able to recon the east face. This time, the route looked to be in impeccable condition, with a decent weather window to boot.

Here’s Clint and Andres’s account of the first ascent of the east face of Golgotha - a route they aptly named ‘The Shaft of The Abyss’.

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Notes

Special thanks to Clint Helander & Andres Marin

Produced by Evan Phillips
Editing & Sound Design by Pod Peak
Original Music by Evan Phillips

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86 episodes