Jon Bracey and Matt Helliker have climbed a new route up the ‘Moonflower Buttress’ on Mount Hunter in Denali National Park, Alaska. The Cartwright Connection was established over 6 days and was named in memory of the late Jules Cartwright who originally conceived the line.
The famous North American alpinist Mugs Stump made the first ascent of the North Buttress of Mount Hunter in 1981. He named his line ‘Moonflower Buttress’ and the name is now used to describe the original and classic North Buttress route on Mount Hunter as well as the whole northern tower/buttress of the mountain itself. Since 1981 several other routes have been climbed on the North Buttress of Mount Hunter and a repeat of any of these is considered a remarkable effort. Due to conditions, weather and objective difficulties there have been several years (sometimes in a row) when no one has succeeded in climbing any route on the North Buttress at all. Climbing a new route on the buttress therefore represents a considerable achievement.
The Cartwright Connection took 6 days to climb. 2 days were spent scoping out the route and climbing the first 10 pitches. Jon Bracey and Matt Helliker then returned to base camp to wait for a decent weather forecast. When the right forecast appeared there followed a particularly intense four day period of climbing with the pair being pinned in their portaledge for a day at one point. Jon Bracey writes:
After being trapped in the ledge all day at 9 pm we sensed a slight lull in the storm and could see glimpses of the sun through the clouds. We were both thinking exactly the same thoughts...this might be our one and only chance so lets take it. With no food left there was no point in playing a waiting game. We quickly packed a stove, spare gloves, warm jackets and a minimal rack. Our goal to reach the top of the Buttress, 500m and 13 pitches of climbing above us. In reality knowing the chances of success being negligible.
Two pitches later the snow started up again and we were battling hard against forceful spindrift. The cold was almost unbearable but some how our optimism and unwillingness to give-in was winning through. In a dream like state of exhaustion we stood at the top of the face at 5am, few words were said, with no comprehension of what we had just achieved. We just knew we had to start abseiling with haste. 38 abseils and 14 hours later we were back on the glacier and collapsed, having been awake for 36 hours. We have named the route 'The Cartwright Connection' in memory of my good friend Jules as it was his vision to attempt this line.
To read more from Jon and from Matt about The Cartwright Connection visit