Two significant walls (300 ft & 900 ft) exist on the aspects of Mount Prindle's south facing headwall and surrounding slopes. The 900 ft Main Wall has several satellite buttresses, and there are many other lesser formations in the general area with plenty of established routes and potential projects. The area is remote, secluded and the chances that you run into another party is even more remote. The area is composed of granite whose quality ranges from good on the more established routes to substandard on the less familiar or first ascents. This is typical Alaska so be prepared for dramatic weather changes, wildlife, seclusion and the know how on working a compass. Management of this area falls under the auspices of White Mountains National Recreation Area and a National Research Area so there is some ambiguity as to access vis a vis camping. There is no ambiguity though concerning other recreational activities: no ATV use! If you do decide to camp (realistically this is not a one day climbing destination) climbers should minimize impact and keep a low profile by utilizing a knoll below the SE Buttress. Leave No Trace ethics should be the objective of all responsible climbers.
Mount Prindle Area Climbing Guide by Stan Justice, with contributions by the Alaska Alpine Club, contains the most accurate approach information for this area. Generally speaking, the drive is two hours from Fairbanks, a 4x4 vehicle with clearance is encouraged and the approach just to the base of the primary climbing areas is 3-4 hours. I highly recommend that you purchase this guide before attempting climbs in the area.
The classic and "most popular" route at Mount Prindle, though I'd guess it sees <5 ascents per season. The line tackles the aesthetic western margin/skyline of the Main Wall (as seen from the approach), and has a number of variation finishes to the final pitches. Rock quality can vary wildly, and bomb-proof belay anchors are in short supply. There is no fixed gear or bolt anchors. If you have any doubts about your ability to navigate through loose/grainy rock, vegetation, gravel, ba...[more]Browse More Classics in AK
Access: The trail (described in Stan Justice's guidebook) is definitely under-used as of 17 August 2012; however, do your best to stay on or close to it as it can be a HUGE time-saver. If you go too far north and descend into American Creek proper too far downstream, you will be fighting head-high alder bushes interspersed with thick, wet muskeg. Depending on rainfall, the upper portions of the N. Fork American Creek can be dry and make easier access for the final bit of the hike.
Rock condition: Very variable. Anything from lichen covered slab to completely loose flakes to surprisingly solid granite. Lichen was ever-present, even on Giradelli, "the most popular route at Prindle."
Pro: (for route Giradelli 5.9 900 ft) Shallow flaring cracks were prevalent and frustrating. Small nuts proved essential, but placements required triple checking to verify rock quality. One belay would have been immensely improved by a #2 Big Bro, but most placements were #1 C4 Cam or smaller. Pink and Red Tricams were placeable; hexes were the least useful.
Adventure climbing at it's finest, and way, way out there. Prindle can be done in-a-day (a HUGE day), and with 24 hour daylight in the summer why not? Adding all the weight of overnight gear onto the already demanding and strenuous approach is no joke, but would allow for doing more than just one or two routes. The 3 hour estimate is for fast and experienced parties familiar with the approach and hidden game-trails. With overnight gear, I'd expect 5 hours of seemingly endless slogging through springy tundra fields. The hike back out is only slightly easier than the approach, as you only have 2 big uphill sections to overcome versus 3 on the way in. In one day we saw bear, moose, caribou, Dall sheep, and the tracks of a large wolf and some smaller foxes. A 4WD high-clearance vehicle is not just recommended, but MANDATORY if you want to get anywhere close to the "trailhead." Otherwise, bring mountain bikes to get to Zephyr Creek parking and plan on getting wet on the numerous creek crossings. An extra pair of boots/socks might be nice.