Ben Lieber Solos Alaska’s Classic Moose’s Tooth in 3.5 Hours

On April 14, 2022, American alpinist Ben Lieber soloed Moose’s Tooth Peak (3,150m) in Denali National Park. He took the mountain’s obvious and classic Ham and Eggs route, graded 3+, WI4, 5.6, to the summit. His ascent took just 3.5 hours, and he was back in base camp just 2.5 hours after he’d summited.

Ben Lieber, solo on the Moose’s Tooth

The 27-year-old New Hampshire native provides a full and enthusiastic trip report on his personal site. Ideal conditions and two successful summit pushes by parties the day before his attempt boded well.

“The ice pitches weren’t overly difficult, but the ice was airy and felt rotten and insecure,” he told PlanetMountain. “It took some good focus to get through them without the rope on.”

Under bluebird skies, he arrived at the top, where he briefly took in the summit views (“Denali, Hunter, Huntington, Foraker to the west, Silverthrone to the north…”), snapped a couple of selfies, and then proceeded back down. He downclimbed most of the summit ridge, then rappelled and hiked the remainder of the descent.

A laborious 20 rappels on two 60m ropes got him there safely.

Ben Lieber takes a summit selfie atop Moose's Tooth Peak. Photo: Ben Lieber

Ben Lieber takes a summit selfie atop Moose’s Tooth Peak. Photo: Ben Lieber

 

Lieber hasn’t been climbing that long. He migrated to Alaska in 2017 after deciding to ditch all of his belongings and “begin a new life — a mountain life.”

He fell for Moose’s Tooth during a helicopter tour of Denali National Park in 2016.

“Towering granite beyond something I, as a novice mountaineer, could comprehend as climbable. It was guarded by the biggest glaciers I’d ever seen. We were East Coast people. This was something out of a book. Finally, as we brushed in front of the highest snow-capped point, Paul said over the headset, ‘This is the Moose’s Tooth, that couloir is Ham & Eggs.'”

This trip constituted his very first solo climb in the Alaska Range.

“Soloing in the big mountains is something I have been working towards. After a really productive winter of cragging, I felt the time was right.”

'Ham and Eggs' 3+, WI4, first ascended by Tom Davies, Jon Krakauer, and Nate Zinsser in 1975. Photo: Ben Lieber

‘Ham and Eggs’ 3+, WI4, 5.6 First ascent by Tom Davies, Jon Krakauer, and Nate Zinsser in 1975. Photo: Ben Lieber

 

Krakauer on ‘Ham and Eggs’

Ham and Eggs is a 914m line that shoots up the mountain’s South Face. Tom Davies, Jon Krakauer, and Nate Zinsser bagged the first ascent in the summer of 1975. The harrowing adventure took them more than a day and involved a bevy of mishaps.

Krakauer’s humorous recount of the trip raised Ham and Eggs to relative fame within mountaineering circles. The route’s name is a nod to how underprepared Davies, Krakauer, and Zinsser were on the climb. “If we had some ham, we could have some ham and eggs, if we had some eggs,” Krakauer wrote.

Sketchy conditions, general lack of preparation, insomnia, and instances of partners falling asleep on the rappel down all occur in Krakauer’s trip report.

Given Lieber’s smooth, six-hour romp, it’s almost hard to believe he and Krakauer were climbing the same route.

Jilli grew up in the rural southern Colorado mountains, later moving to Texas for college. After seven years in corporate consulting, she was introduced to sport climbing. In 2020, Jilli left her corporate position to pursue an outdoor-oriented life. She now works as a contributor, an editor, and a gear tester for ExplorersWeb and various other outlets within the AllGear network. She is based out of Austin, Texas where she takes up residence with her climbing gear and one-eared blue heeler, George Michael.


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Alexander Pancoe
Alexander Pancoe
2 months ago

Had the pleasure to be his first fist bump on hia way back into camp. An epic day up there indeed and congrats again Ben.