Anna Pfaff Makes Triumphant Return to Alaska With New Route on Mount Providence

In her first Alaska climb since losing several toes to severe frostbite two years ago, Anna Pfaff and partners Andres Marin and Thomas Bukowski established a new 983m route on the south face of 3,429m Mount Providence, although they had to turn around 100m below the summit.

Anna Pfaff, Thomas Bukowski and Andres Marin in front of the south face of Mount Providence.

Anna Pfaff, Thomas Bukowski, and Andres Marin in front of their new route up the south face of Mount Providence. Photo: Andres Marin


The three flew onto the Thunder Glacier below Thunder Mountain and Mount Providence. Thunder Mountain has a good collection of routes up its various gullies and chutes, but Mount Providence has seen curiously little attention. They decided to go for a new line up the center of the south face, which Marin had spied before the climb. They carried food for two days.

According to Bukowski, the route was the full package: ”Lots of steep snow stepping, some funky mixed sections that Andres [Marin] styled (M5?), a narrowing ice chute where I found surprisingly good ice (AI4?), and some steep (70º?), sugary, faceted snow that Anna [Pfaff] burrowed through.”

The climbers ascending the new line on the south face of Mount Providence.

The climbers ascend the new line on the south face of Mount Providence. Photo: Andres Marin


Precarious ledge

After the first day of icy rock climbing, they bivouacked on a precarious ledge below a wall. The next morning, they climb an even harder and colder pitch, eventually reaching their high point.

They were aware that the weather was supposed to worsen shortly. They weren’t prepared for a second bivy and needed time for the descent. In the end, they descended shy of the summit.

“We had already climbed the steepest and hardest part of the mountain,” said Marin. “It was a hard decision to make, but at the end of the day, [it was] the right and responsible thing to do.”

They named their new route Journey Through the Castle of Providence (983m, V, M5, AI4, 5.10).

Another image during the climb.

Photo: Andres Marin


Pfaff lost several toes in 2022 after climbing the difficult 1,200m Harvard Route on Mount Huntington with Priti Wright. Last year, she climbed Kyajo Ri in the Himalaya with some partners, but this was her first time back in Alaska.

”Seeing Anna [Pfaff] back in the Alaska mountains, climbing hard with a smile on her face, was an awesome and emotional thing to see,” wrote Marin on social media.

Although their route did not end at the summit, climbing is about much more than reaching the summit. Mark Twight wrote once that his best and most beautiful routes didn’t end at the top.

Kris Annapurna

KrisAnnapurna is a writer with ExplorersWeb.

Kris has been writing about history and tales in alpinism, news, mountaineering, and news updates in the Himalaya, Karakoram, etc., for the past year with ExplorersWeb. Prior to that, Kris worked as a real estate agent, interpreter, and translator in criminal law. Now based in Madrid, Spain, she was born and raised in Hungary.