The Fang & Fist
is one of the best routes in the Ghost (referred to as "the pick of the litter"
in the guidebook). At the same time, it is one of the more remote and somewhat hidden ones. The climb consists of three short but vertical and often quite technical pillars, connected by easier ice. Due to the fact that it gets partial sun throughout the season, it is probably more of an early season climb. Having a large amount of snow would also significantly slow down the approach.
Map of area
The climb is located in the Malamute Valley
, in the East Fork of Claw Creek. Due to some recent access restrictions
, hiking a significant distance across the river is required. From the parking spot in the North Ghost, to the base of the climb, it is about 9km total. Even when driving to the base of the valley, the drive can be difficult, involving deep snow and many river crossings, some of them partially frozen, adding to the commitment level.
From Calgary, drive to the North Ghost as usual (about 1.5 hours). Park at marker #39 as currently required (2007/2008, check current area access rules) and hike upstream (trail on south side). The drive to this parking lot is described on the North Ghost page, but make sure you bring multiple shovels, chains, winch if you have one. A sleeping bag is never a bad idea in case you get stuck so bad that you have to spend the night there. From there, go for about 7km to the head of Malamute Valley (the first big, open valley on the north side of the river).
From the head of Malamute Valley, hike upstream - this is Claw Creek
. When a fork is reached, go right (East fork). When reached, the climb will be clearly visible on your right. About 1-1.5 hours
from the head of the valley, depending on conditions.
Some GPS waypoints may be found here
and a garmin map referenced from here
The Fang & FistPitch 1
- 50-55m. Climb the vertical and strenuous first pillar (WI 5). Then continue for a full rope length on easier ice to the base of the second pillar and belay from ice.
- 35-40m. Tackle the second pillar (grade 5, can be thin and technical) and climb easier ice to the base of the third one - belay from ice. This may be the crux; it fell off shortly after it was climbed on the first ascent!
- After the third pillar is tackled, reportedly numerous easy ice steps may be climbed.
Rappel the route off the ice, or if you made it to the very top, there is a reported walk-off on the right.
Two ropes. Rack of 8-12 screws (2 needed for each belay). Plenty of cord for Abalakovs.