Italians Open New Route in Alaska’s Kichatna Mountains

During three days in early June, Italians Stefano Ragazzo and Silvia Loreggian opened a new line in the Kichatna Mountains of southwestern Alaska.

Their route went up 2,300m Cemetery Spire in the Cathedral Spires. They named it “Gold Rush” (600m, 5.12a A1+).

“For years, I dreamed of opening a new route big-wall style,” Ragazzo wrote. Especially, he added, climbing as freely as possible and finding perfect granite cracks on a big spire in a remote place like Alaska.

They climbed during a marginal weather window, buffeted by wind for almost the entire time.

Indeed, the weather in the Cathedral Spires is almost always harsh, but the granite is very good. As Richard Millikan and writer David Roberts wrote in the American Alpine Journal in 1966, these spires are probably North America’s nearest equivalent to the towers of Patagonia.

“No other area combines heavy glaciation, remoteness, and bad weather with such an abundance of vertical walls, pinnacles, and obelisks,” the authors recalled.

Silvia Loreggian and Stefano Ragazzo on Cemetery Spire.

Silvia Loreggian, left, and Stefano Ragazzo on Cemetery Spire. Photo: Stefano Ragazzo/Silvia Loreggian


Once we arrived there, I was stunned by the beauty of the place,” Silvia Loreggian recalled. She added that the weather dictated their choice of the route because snow covered many walls, which became very wet during the few hours of sun. Avalanches coursed down every steep section.

“It was a logical climbing straight toward a long and perfect corner until the top,” she added. “After a week of bad weather, we used a couple of days with no precipitation (but a lot of wind) and all our energy to climb our dream. It was a real Gold Rush!”

Climbing up on Cemetery Spire during a short but very windy weather window.

On Cemetery Spire during a short but windy weather window. Photo: Stefano Ragazzo/Silvia Loreggian

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.