Mountaineering: Move Over, Neighbor

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Outside magazine, September 1994

Mountaineering: Move Over, Neighbor
By Todd Balf (with Martin Dugard and John Alderman)

When two high-profile teams announced plans to climb new, ambitious routes on the famed 5,000-foot North Wall of Alaska’s Mount Hunter last spring, some imagined a battle royale–“Something like a duel with ice axes,” according to Greg Child, who along with partner Michael Kennedy arrived at the Kahiltna Glacier base camp in early May, just after veteran speed climber Marc
Twight and his less-heralded sidekick, Scott Backes. Oddly, considering the sometimes contentious traditions of the sport, things happened to work out. Twight and Backes backed off the more arduous route favored by Child and Kennedy for a fast line on the Wall’s west side. Traveling in super-lightweight style, Twight and Backes sped to the summit in a single day on May 17, then
plodded their way down as a nasty whiteout turned their blitz into a 72-hour enduro. Next it was Child’s and Ken-nedy’s turn. A week later, they set off on a nine-day rock-and-ice epic on the Face’s coldest line. “It only gets a couple of hours of sun the whole long Alaskan day,” says Child, who with Kennedy pieced together a route dominated by hard, steep ice climbing. On June 1
the pair topped out, named the route Wall of Shadows, and started down. A few hours from base camp, Twight and Backes greeted them with skis and food, a gesture similar to one made by Child and Kennedy a week earlier. “Both routes were significant and they were a week apart,” says Child. “Really, we all walked away great fans of each other.

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