Toto & Zulu Warrior

Former Anchorite Austin Thayer was visiting and the weather forecast looked halfway decent so we met up early and drove up to Hatcher in the hopes of getting in some climbing before the rains came back. Ignoring the puddles we pushed up Archangel road and were roped up and starting up the first pitch of Toto by 10am. Swinging leads we jogged up the route and topped out on the top of pitch 5 two and a-half hours later.

A quick rap off and then a sidetrack over to Zulu Warrior for a wet greasy slab route, which Austin lead in a sprinkling rain. He hesitated briefly at the crux trying to figure out how to smear on wet rock but then pulled his way across the mossy slabs to grab the anchors. I followed in a slight drizzle topping out on a typical Talkeetna rainy afternoon.

Rapping off in the rain and back to the car in a drizzle.

Snuck another one in and it’s probably the last. The tundra has turned and the blueberries are ripe. Today it’s cold and rainy in Anchorage and snowing in the mountains outside of town.

Toto. The Anchorage-area multi-pitch crack classic. One could argue that it’s the Anchorage-area multi-pitch crack classic because it’s the only one around – which is a valid argument. But the 5.9 corner crack is downright sweet. The 10a corner is a good-time thrash. The first pitch is pretty good. The second pitch has 10′ of sweet crack on it. The third pitch is shit. But I digress… First climbed by the famous Steve Garvey it’s one of the most heavily traveled routes in the state.

Start in the crack left of the Garvey plaque and work your way up a pitch of 5.8 broken cracks to a nice ledge. The second pitch starts with a 5.7 layback made harder by muddy rock shoes and ends with 10′ of good crack. The third pitch sucks. Wet mossy gravel ledges until you finally reach a fun 5.8 arete, which you balance up until delicately stepping around a corner where pitch 4 makes your hands start sweating.

Pitch 4 is a quintessential 5.9 corner crack. Smear your right foot on the wall, stem far left searching for edges. Stick those hands in the crack and slap in one mid-sized cam after another. Work your way up 50′ and pull over a lip bummed that the fun is over so fast.

Pitch 5 is an in your face thrash. Climb up the face left of the crack and grab inside. The cracks go in all directions and you just have to get your feet up high and hang on. The higher you thrash the bigger the handholds get. 10a but there’s nothing graceful about it.

We topped out on pitch 5 and elected not to do the final chossy easy pitch and the traversing downclimb to the 5.10 face looked wet… so then down down down we went. 3 raps back to the terra firma and moving over to Zulu Warrior.

Zulu Warrior. 10a. First climbed by Evan Smith and David Miller in 1985 and Kelsey Gray gets it right on when he writes: “The falls would be nasty and unpleasant but worth it.” Start on a flake (#2 cam for gear) then stem your way up granite dikes with a bolt every now and then. It looks run out but the bolts are where you need them.

The crux is at the top: Step high left, slap right, and then get your right foot up high and roll over a bulge slapping for the moss clod. There’s a direct finish that goes straight up from the last bolt but it’s a bit harder. Best climbed when it’s dry but it’s never dry in Hatcher so suck it up.

All photos of Zulu Warrior by Austin Thayer who hauled up the camera for shots of me following.