Words by Jeremy Collins, Photos by James Q Martin
The Phreenix, (5.11, 800m, Phoenix Wall on Mount Dracula, Vampire Peaks, Ragged Range, Northwest Territories, Canada, North America, Planet Earth)
A year and half ago, I sat at a dive bar in Kansas with Pat Goodman. Bob Seger jammed some "Old Time Rock & Roll" on a bejeweled jukebox in the background. Halfway through a batch of chips and salsa, I told him I was looking for a unique climb to do as far north as possible that included good, unclimbed rock, culture, and wildlife.
He smiled, took a sip of local brew and began to tell me about "The Phoenix" a 2,600-foot wall of perfect granite that had been climbed but not free climbed. On top of the climb was an untouched ridge of porcelain snow and ice leading to Peak 2451, also unclimbed. All in all, a 3,500-foot vertical route on one of the big remaining un-free-climbed features in North America. It was love at first bite.
"There's a caveat, though," he whispered. "If you want to go, you gotta go with me."
Sip. Smile. Handshake.
[Above: The Phoenix Wall. "The Phreenix" follows the prow of the formation.]