American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

The Fairweather Climb

  • Feature Article
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1932

The Fairweather Climb

William S. Ladd

THE story of the expedition which made the first ascent of Mt. Fairweather in the spring of 1931 has been ably told by others of our party.1 It is not the intention to here repeat the story, but instead to give some of the details of the climb from the camp at 5,000 feet on the Fairweather Glacier almost to the summit.

It was Sunday, May 24th, a perfectly glorious day, when we made camp at that level. It was pitched on a table of snow between two great crevasses, each well over a hundred yards long, twenty feet wide in the middle, with sheer sides and the depths in darkness. We were about a third of a mile from a great snow-and-ice fan formed by avalanche material from the ridge up which we intended to proceed. This ridge was broad, several hundred yards wide at the base, edged on the west by a great series of cliffs, rising buttress upon buttress from a hundred feet above camp to an altitude of about 11,000 feet or more. On top of the broad ridge there was a heavy accumulation of snow and ice, well glaciated and in certain areas forming ice-falls of considerable size. These ice-falls were impassable. Beside them rose irregular bands of rock which had to be crossed in the ascent. On account of the width of the ridge, the climbing was that of a mountain face rather than of an arête, and we did not reach a narrow arête until we had attained an elevation of about 11,500 feet.

The night of the 23rd had been cool, and if the night to come were cold and crisp, the 25th should be an ideal day for a climb, for on this day, the 24th, the slopes were rapidly shedding snow and ice. Every few moments the roar and rumble of snow-and- ice slides and avalanches were heard. Several came down the couloir above the snow-fan which gave the only practical access to the ridge I have just described. Although we all were tired from five days of forced packing to reach our present station, we decided to press on immediately, early the next morning. We rose at 12.30 a.m. the morning of the 25th. The thermometer stood at twenty degrees, which augured well for hard slopes, but it was 3.40 a.m. before we had taken down one tent, made up our packs, and left the camp in order for two or three days’ absence.

Our packs, when made up, weighed 35 to 40 pounds apiece. They contained food for two or three days, tent, sleeping bags, two air mattresses, one gasoline Primus stove, a gallon of gas, two 120-foot lengths of rope, cameras, and some extra clothing.2

The going was excellent, as there was a good hard crust and it took but a few moments to reach the snow-fan and start upward. Here the way became somewhat rough over the frozen avalanche material. We carried two aneroids by which we checked our progress in altitude. At the end of the first hour we had only ascended 650 feet, but we were well in the couloir. The going became very steep in the upper half, the slope being about fifty degrees (clinometer) toward the head of it. Step-cutting had to be done in places and a sharp lookout kept for possible avalanche material coming our way. For several hundred feet we edged along close to some rocks, into the irregularities of which we could dodge in case of ice falls. At 5.40 a.m. we had climbed 1,100 feet and came out on a small snow saddle leading from the slope to a rocky buttress. Here we rested fifteen minutes. We then proceeded directly up a snow slope at first easy, then stiffer, to the base of the first band of rocks. By means of a snow tongue we were able to get on to the rocks where a small buttress protruded at their base. These rocks were not difficult, but we found them covered with a heavy coating of verglas, and this in turn covered by two or three inches of fresh snow. We made considerable use of the rope and were forced to climb without our packs, hauling them up with ropes. Conditions were very treacherous.

It was 7.20 a.m. when we reached the top of the first band of rocks, an altitude of 1,500 feet above camp. We proceeded upward immediately with long hauls over snow and ice, passing below a small sérac or two, up a short distance, where step-cutting had to be resorted to ; then came easier slopes to the base of the second band of rocks which we reached at 8.30 o’clock. We rested half an hour before we began to ascend the second band of rocks, about 300 feet in height. These rocks in themselves were more difficult than the first band, and the problem of the route was of greater interest. The warmth of the sun had begun to melt the icy coating and many rocks were loose. Again, we proceeded with ropes and had to haul the packs after us. It was slow and tedious work and took great care. We did not reach the summit of the second band of rocks until 11.00 a.m. We were then 3,000 feet above camp.

On continuing, we found the snow slopes getting soft. At 12.45 we had done 1,000 feet more and found ourselves at an altitude of a little more than 9,000 feet, or about 4,000 feet above our camp on the glacier below. The snow had now become so soft that we were breaking through the upper crust and sinking in nine or ten inches. The climbing had become exceedingly tedious.

A small snow saddle reaching from the slope out to another buttress presented itself and seemed to offer a safe place to pitch a tent. To the west of us was the steep snow slope of the face of the ridge, to the east of us cliffs leading down about 500 feet to a glacier basin. Our camping place was protected fairly well by the head of a small funnel-shaped depression just above the snow saddle, so that avalanching snow and ice from above would be deflected over the cliffs to the east. Above us was a long, very steep snow-and-ice slope. We felt that we had proceeded as far as we could without considerable danger, because of the condition of this slope, so we made camp.

We had already noticed small cloud caps forming on the peaks to the southeast, and now as we finished making camp the fog enveloped us. Soon it began to snow very gently and continued to do so all the afternoon and evening, without wind. We intended to proceed the next morning. We rested and slept fitfully during the afternoon. About 11.00 p.m. when we looked out, it was still snowing. Three inches of fresh snow had fallen. We made weather observations every hour, but the hours passed without a let up. We finally made breakfast at 2.30 a.m. The weather looked rather bad, as if it were settling for another storm, and we debated at length whether to try to go on. The night had not been as cold as the preceding one, and because of the fresh snow and forbidding appearance of the clouds, we decided to go down to our 5,000-foot camp.

Leaving all food and equipment except bedding rolls, we started down about 3.00 a.m., with the snow still gently falling. The rock bands gave us considerable trouble on account of the fresh snow and we left one of the ropes in place on the upper band to help us with the next attempt at ascent. In spite of the trouble on the rock bands we descended to camp in a little over three hours.

As there was no wind and some brightness in the sky, we crossed the glacier to the top of the second ice-fall to bring up more supplies from our cache there. When we got to our cache at the head of the ice-fall, we found that marmots had come from some mountain den in the rocks of nearby cliffs and had eaten all of the butter (about five pounds) that we had left there. Taylor remarked that the marmots would be talking about that find for some time.

The weather turned comparatively warm (twenty-eight degrees) and it snowed occasionally. The surface of the glacier was soft and the slopes above us were avalanching. About 9.45 the sun broke through on us and we had a chance to dry out our beds and clothing, and do some washing. Moore started off on skis across the Fairweather névé to take pictures, but by a little after noon heavy dark clouds rolled in and there was evidence of a good deal of wind higher up. Avalanches had begun coming down soon after we got off the mountain.

That night it got down to twenty-two degrees ; the next night it rained, snowed, and blew continuously. About 5 a.m. it blew so hard that the tent seemed in danger of going to pieces. We had placed the skis inside it to keep the sides from bellying and to shed more of the wind. Four of us in one tent seven by eight feet made it rather crowded, and we had to place our cooking utensils outside. To our dismay on getting breakfast ready we found that our dish pan, wash basin, and plates had blown away. Other things were missing. In a hasty search we were able to find some of them scattered over the surface of the glacier. We traced the course the pans had taken by the wavy tracks they had made as they rolled along in the wind, and after some exciting rescue work—letting Moore down into one of the great crevasses —we recovered a wash basin and the plates. They had, fortunately, lodged precariously on ledges of snow and had not gone to the bottom.

For protection from the gale and storm we dug a pit four feet deep in the surface of the glacier and set the tent in it with our supplies and pack boards. The storm continued in squalls of snow, rain, sleet, and again snow, until about 4.00 p.m. on May 31st.

These days and nights, five of them, were tedious, but amusing. We sat on a couch made of air mattresses most of the day. We read Shakespeare, and a couple of Saturday Evening Posts. Taylor and I played cribbage and smoked. When we turned in, the four of us were shoulder to shoulder across the tent, and when one turned over, the others would know it. There was conversation of all sorts and some bets on the weather. There was mending and cooking to be done and snow to be melted for water. We did a neat job splicing the broken crampons with leather strapping and copper wire, so that they served us well.

The weather changed decidedly the afternoon of the 31st and Taylor and I went out to break a trail with snow-shoes across the one-third of a mile to the snow-fan, and partly up it. The wind had quieted. There had been a great deal of avalanching. We found that on snow-shoes we sank almost a foot in the soft snow and we had great difficulty in making our way through and around the crevasses hidden by the fresh snow. We intended to start again to the 9,000-foot camp early the next morning, but our experience in getting to the snow-fan and working up it made us realize that the slopes were in no condition for a climb, and that it would be foolhardy to try the ascent without a day of hot sun and a cold night or two.

The night of the 31st the temperature reached thirteen degrees. June 1st was a beautiful day. There were some tremendous avalanches, both off of the slope up which we intended to climb and the mountains about us. It was very annoying to have to wait twenty-four hours and let a precious day of good weather go by. It had taken much patience to sit in our tent for days after having established a camp at 9,000 feet. The night of June 1 the temperature dropped to eight degrees. We made breakfast at 11.30 p.m. and were away from camp at 1.50 a.m. June 2nd. The snow crust was not good and we broke through a great deal. We carried our sleeping bags and enough food to last us at 9,000 feet for three days, in addition to the food we had left there. In spite of the fact that the going was not so good, we made much better time. The rock bands did not give us quite as much trouble because we had a route worked out, and the rope left in place on the upper rocks helped us considerably with that band.

We reached our upper camp at 7.10 a.m. The weather was perfect. We found the tent snowed in and covered with a foot and a half of snow. Although we had taken it down and placed rocks upon it the wind had ripped it, and it took us an hour and a half to uncover it, let it thaw, and get things in order. While we were doing this a most marvelous and tremendous avalanche of powdery snow came down the glacier, passing to the east from the heights above. Roaring and thundering at first, it quickly became a great, noiseless avalanche of billowing clouds of powdered snow. We turned in at 11.30 a.m.; had a small lunch at 5.00 p.m. and at 11.30 p.m. cooked a breakfast and prepared for the final stage of our climb. Although it does not become really dark at any time at this latitude and season, we found the light too deceptive to proceed up the slopes immediately. It was at 1.00 a.m. June 3rd when we got under way.

The slope above camp was steep, the crust poor and we broke through easily. We went unroped. The quality of the snow varied and we found that at times the best progress was made by going on all fours, driving in the blade of the ice-axe and digging in the toe prongs of our crampons. In an hour and twenty minutes we had done 800 feet, and another hour 700 feet more. Then came a sheer ice wall, so very steep that it was necessary to cut large and deep steps. We roped. Here the wind hit us. The temperature at the start had been about eighteen degrees, but it rapidly grew colder. After surmounting this ice wall we had easy going for a few hundred feet, on wind-packed snow, then came looser snow and one or two troublesome crevasses. Like small schrunds they were, and getting over the upper lip gave us some trouble. The character of the going was consistently varied, sometimes a hard surface and easy, with a crust swept bare of snow; sometimes firm, wind-packed snow ; and sometimes soft, dry, powdery snow. We now had about 500 feet of very steep slope. We were afraid that the wind-packed snow might slip on the crust below. We proceeded slowly, digging through the surface snow, cutting steps in the ice crust beneath.

By 6.10 a.m. we had reached the summit of this slope, about 2,000 feet above our camp. From below, this place had appeared as a small peak but in reality it was the termination or beginning of a long arête, the point of the broad ridge we had ascended with a long narrow arête leading eastward to the slopes below the southeast shoulder. The temperature was now ten degrees. We rested and ate a little, then went on. For two or three hundred feet the arête was steep and icy, with occasional outcrops of rock which afforded good holds and gave us a sense of security. The arête then became a fine, narrow snow ridge with a small cornice to our left, and a very steep drop on either side. The snow on the top of the arête was dry and powdery and windpacked.

Here the sun struck us and the temperature rose to twelve degrees. We made fair progress. At one place, halfway toward the shoulder, the arête was broken by a very steep slope about seventy feet in length. It was as though we had been traveling along the gable of a house and came to the point where it blended with the slope of a roof which led to another gable at a different angle above. This slope, though short, was precarious and took great care in the making of steps. A slip here would have shunted us off to one side or the other of the gable we had just left. It took time out of all proportion to the length of this slope to reach the arête at the top.

As we had come up, the moon had passed out from behind Mt. Lituya to the south. Just before it appeared a golden glow came from behind the peak which amazed us. We wondered what the phenomenon could be. Then the moon passed serenely across the space between Lituya and set behind the peak to the west. It gave one a very queer sensation. Dawn was beautiful, with cold whites and greens changing to yellows and rose as the sun came up. We had had a fine Aurora Borealis during the night.

The last half of our snow arête gave us no trouble, and led us to moderate slopes of rough snow and old, honey-combed icy surface which made easy going to the summit of the southeast shoulder. Here we arrived at 9.20 a.m. It had been blowing a gale all the way and we all were frosted about the face and hair and edges of our caps.

On the shoulder we stopped to take some photographs. The views were magnificent. We noted a thin, high canopy of cirrus clouds forming away to the east, and apparently moving toward the Fairweather Range, but the wind where we were was a strong west wind. There was a great brilliant sun-dog about the sun. There were no caps on the mountains, however, and we did not even consider the possibility of early bad weather. The surface snow of the shoulder summit presented most interesting patterns of sastrugi. There was no protection from the wind, so we dug holes in the snow and sat in them to eat a breakfast of cold, hard sardines, hard tack and chocolate. We had no water or other liquid, but we were not troubled by thirst. The temperature was five degrees.

After a half-hour rest we started across toward the central pyramid of the mountain. This was a broad arête exposed to the hard wind with some tremendous cornices to the east. It was easy going for about three-quarters of a mile, but as we approached the central pyramid, became steadily steeper.

While at breakfast Moore and I had carefully examined the central pyramid with the glasses, and worked out what we thought was a very satisfactory route to the summit. Once across the arête and a little way up the slope, we came to a schrund which was not troublesome. Above this, the slope of the pyramid presented at first a very steep ice wall about 150 feet in height. It was on the southeastern face of the slope of the central pyramid above the head of our arête. Here we knew we would have to do step-cutting. Once surmounted, it looked as though there would be no difficulty in proceeding up more moderate slopes to within about 300 feet of the summit. Here there was another area of crevasses, and above them ice walls which guarded the summit cap. It was as though the central peak were a large rocky eminence with steep sides heavily covered by snow, which, in settling and breaking away, had formed crevasses of a schrund- like character, the upper lips of which formed snow or ice cliffs thirty or forty feet high, but no rock was exposed. We were able with the glasses to work out a route through these ice bluffs by bearing to the east, reaching the slope from the summit to the east of it. We felt that we could then turn abruptly to the west and easily surmount the summit itself.

We reached the base of the central pyramid at 11.30 a.m. We roped up, and Moore led, cutting steps. Again, very great care was necessary in proceeding, for it would not have been easy to hold anyone who slipped. Steps were made deep, one man moved at a time; careful attention was given to the rope and to anchoring our ice-axes. All went well, and we did not notice the increasing cloudiness. The wind continued, whipped loose surface snow across our slope and the chips of ice blew in our faces. It was very cold.

About 12.30 we finished the step-cutting and arrived on a slope above, so easy that we took off the rope, but, to our consternation, we found that we were enshrouded in cloud and that it was snowing. The visibility was not good. All had seemed so fair while we were crossing the arête below that we had left our willow twigs, which, up to this point, we had used to mark our route. How we regretted this now! It was snowing so fast that, with the wind, our tracks were quickly obliterated. We took compass bearings and proceeded, following what we thought to be the course we had mapped out. In twenty minutes we found ourselves in the mass of crevasses which I have described, just below the summit, and we were faced by insurmountable snow and ice walls. By now the visibility had become so bad that it was difficult to tell, in making a step, whether we were stepping up or down, and we had to sound each step.

One after another of us took the lead, and tried to find the way through, each time to be halted by a crevasse too wide to cross, or an unscalable ice wall. We knew that we were just beneath the summit cap and not more than 250 or 300 feet below the summit. It was tantalizing business, this working back and forth unable to see ahead more than a few feet. After an hour and a quarter of this futile seeking, it seemed unwise to continue. The storm was steadily increasing in violence, and we knew that to descend the ice slope below would be extremely difficult, if we could find it at all. The temperature was two degrees.

Two of us had carried in our pockets extra pairs of black felt insoles. These we had cut into narrow strips and planted in the snow as we came along up from the ice slope where we had cut steps. We had left four inches of the felt protruding from the surface. With the aid of our compass bearings and these markers we succeeded in finding our way back to the steps. There was little sign of them, and each step had to be cleared as we proceeded downward. It took us over two hours to descend this short distance. The conditions were the worst I have ever experienced on such a slope. Once down to the arête leading over to the northeast shoulder the storm was less violent and we made good time across. We proceeded on down and about 500 feet below the shoulder got beneath the storm, and could see occasionally through cloud rifts some of the country below us. Once a patch of sunshine on the glacier below made us hesitate and debate the possibility of sitting out the storm in caves dug in the snow, but our experience with the previous spells of bad weather convinced us that we ought to return to the 9,000-foot camp.

Good time was made and the steep slopes below were in better condition than we expected. Apparently the sunshine in the morning had done a little melting, and the cold of the storm had solidified the surface so that conditions were safer than they had been on the ascent. Nevertheless, in a number of places we had to face the slope and go down backwards. As we descended, the storm seemed to descend with us and it snowed a little all the way down. We reached camp about 7.30 p.m.

We cooked a good supper, took stock of our provisions, and debated what to do. There were occasional fitful gusts of wind. We found the barometers had dropped, but we turned in with the determination to try again the next morning if the weather permitted. During the night we looked out every hour or so. Conditions did not change much, but it was clear that we could not climb the next morning. About 3.30 a.m. June 4th we made a breakfast and all turned out to look things over. It was apparent that we were in for another storm.

There were several possibilities. We had food to last the four of us four days more, at most. It was a question whether the gasoline would hold out that long. All water had to be made by melting snow. We could all stay and take a chance that the storm would break, or we could all go down once more and risk the delay of waiting through a day of good weather to make the lower slopes safe and climbable as we had done before. If we could start from 9,000 feet the moment the weather cleared, it would be an advantage, for it would not be necessary to wait for a day of sun and then a cold night. Conditions were so constantly cold on the upper slope that climbing was possible even with a fresh fall of snow, as the wind packed it well and the sun had little effect upon it.

Again we debated at length. It seemed to Taylor and me that the surest way of securing a complete ascent was for two of us to stay at the 9,000-foot camp, and the other two to descend to the 5,000-foot camp, waiting there either to ascend and join the others or to help them if necessary. Consequently Taylor and I regretfully left the others. The descent was the most difficult bit of mountain work we had done, as conditions were very bad. With the new snow, which was at times a little wet, the rocks were difficult, so all the way we had to proceed with great care. We left one rope with the others, and descended to the upper band of rocks unroped. Then we took the rope we had left there with us, using it all the way. We did not reach the 5,000-foot camp until late in the morning.

It was storming, with wet snow and rain. We were kept to the tent, with two days of constant storm. We then determined to move some of our material, which we wished to save, down the glacier. The storm had let up where we were, and there were signs of clearing, but for those in the camp above it continued with considerable violence. They told us later that at times they had to take down the tent pole and hold the tent over them, as they lay in their sleeping bags, to keep it from ripping and blowing away.

Our food at the 5,000-foot camp was now low. On the 6th Taylor and I had moved some of the material down the glacier. We now decided it was better to move to the cache further down so that there would be food for Carpé and Moore when they came down to the 5,000-foot camp.

On the evening of June 7th about 9.00 p.m. it began to clear. Carpé and Moore made a breakfast and were off by 10.00 p.m. for another try at the summit. They found going up the steep slopes tedious, with soft snow in places. On the icy slopes, however, the snow had blown off. Most of the steps cut five days before were in good condition, except for being filled with dry, wind-packed snow. They climbed constantly. There were large cornices on the snow arête approaching the northeast shoulder of which they had to be wary. These were on the opposite side from the small cornices we had found before. The willow wands were still in place. On arriving at the northeast shoulder they paused for a short rest only, as it was extremely cold—well below zero.

The surface of the northeast shoulder and the long arête across to the summit pyramid were greatly changed. There were tremendous cornices on this arête, which seemed somewhat narrower. Once or twice sections of cornices broke and made the situation precarious. It was a difficult proposition this time, where before it had given no trouble. At the steep ice slope near the base of the summit pyramid they found our old steps, which were still serviceable, though they needed some modification. Above this slope they continued to the left of the route we had taken, and avoided the crevassed area by ascending a rather steep slope on the southwestern aspect of the summit cap.

They arrived at the summit at 8.00 a.m., having taken ten hours for the ascent. The weather was beautifully clear and several splendid photographs were obtained. They had carried up with them a tent pole and a light tarpaulin, intending to sit out in snow caves any storm that came along. I had given Moore my extra light parka. They tied this to the tent pole and left it planted on the western edge of the summit platform. This was seen three days later from near the beach.

Meanwhile Taylor and I had seen through the glasses that they had taken the tent down, and since the weather was not in the least threatening, we continued to pack our materials down to our last firewood camp about twelve miles from the sea. We kept a sharp lookout with the glasses, and knew when the camp at 9,000 feet disappeared that they had come down.

It was now over two months since we had left Juneau. A boat was to come for us if no word was heard from us by June 10th. We therefore started toward Lituya Bay, where we arrived on the 11th. Moore and Carpé caught up with us, arriving at Lituya Bay two or three hours later.



The weather experienced in the Fairweather Range is most uncertain. Great banks of fog continually drift in toward the coast from the ocean. These move up the glaciers, often making glacier travel difficult unless markers are used. The Alaskan trick of using willow markers is an excellent one. Willow wands about two and one-half feet long are cut and tied in bundles of a hundred, and planted in the snow every fifty yards. They seem to withstand any sort of wind, and remain in position well. If the surface is ice or rock, three wands are tied together at their tips and set up as a tripod. This tripod remains in place, even in very strong winds. These markers are a great help to one when the visibility is bad.

We had clear weather only with a northwest or northeast wind. At such times barometric pressure would be high and constant. At other times the barometer was lower, though not so variable. There are probably clear weather and good conditions for climbing at times when the coast is enshrouded in fog and rain, but one must plan the food supply so that at any time during a climb he may be able to reach food and shelter and hole up for a week at a time.

Climbing Conditions

Climbing conditions are very variable and, of course, depend much on the weather. They do not seem to differ greatly from those found in such areas as the Canadian Rockies or the Alps, except at high altitudes, where there seems rarely to be any considerable melting. Icy slopes and icy conditions seem to be due more to pressure changes that take place in snow which has lain long.

From an altitude of 2,500 feet on the glacier we had to travel at night. We usually started out about two in the morning, and went forward to make a cache, returning to camp by nine or ten in the morning. There was a great deal of snow on the surface of the glacier which had fallen in the month previous, and many of the crevasses were still closed. Going was comparatively safe during the early hours of the morning, but as the day warmed crevasses were visibly opening, and one had to proceed with great caution. By two in the afternoon, the snow usually softened to such a degree that it was difficult going even with snow-shoes, unless a trail had been broken. This occurred whether the day was bright or cloudy.

In passing the ice-falls the snow slopes at the sides of the glacier had to be avoided from nine in the morning until late evening, because of the numerous snow slides and avalanches. On cold nights the avalanches ceased about nine o’clock. The coldest time of night was usually around three in the morning.


Mt. Fairweather was essentially a snow climb, as were Mts. Logan, Bona and McKinley. Various sorts of clothing were worn but wind-proof and water-proof parkas seemed essential. Those used by us were without fur, as fur would wet, mat and freeze. We wore woolen underwear for the high climbing, with wind- proof, light canvas trousers and heavy woolen shirts. We wore no vest or jacket, but relied for extra warmth on an extra wool shirt and the parka. The best covering for the hands we found to be a fingered woolen glove with an oiled leather mitten covering which was removable. These gloves extended well over the wrist.

The most difficult problem was that of footwear. Hobnailed shoes had proved to wet through and chill quickly no matter what efforts were taken to make them water-proof. We therefore wore only regulation shoe-packs, the lower part, as far as the instep, of rubber, the uppers of leather. These shoe-packs were of large size, allowing room for two felt in-soles and at least two pairs of heavy woolen socks. In all snow work, except when traveling on snow-shoes, crampons were worn and were very satisfactory. Ski boots had to be carried for use on skis at the lower levels. If one can use them, skis are better in glacier travel than snow-shoes, for they can be worn to advantage on slopes where snow-shoes have to be dispensed with.

If a climb were contemplated where there was much rock work, hobnailed shoes or rock-climbing shoes suitable to the occasion would have to be carried. The rubber-soled shoe-packs, with or without crampons, were unsatisfactory in crossing the two bands of rock and made climbing more difficult. Several pairs of extra felt in-soles were carried by each of us. There is considerable condensation of moisture in shoe-packs and sometimes in a few hours the felt in-soles next to the rubber soles were saturated. Fresh in-soles were then put in and the wet ones placed to dry. In-soles can be changed during a climb if the feet get cold. Socks, protected by in-soles, usually stay comparatively dry and warm.

Three of us used the Wood’s Arctic Sleeping Bags, and one used a Wood's Arctic, Jr., bag with a very light down quilt fitted inside it. We always slept in perfect comfort, even with the temperature down close to zero. The Wood’s Arctic, Jr., bag combination was about two pounds lighter than the standard Wood’s Arctic Bag. In the sleeping-bag we always kept an extra suit of woolen underwear and an extra pair of dry woolen socks. It was necessary at times to wear a wool shirt for warmth when sleeping.


12 small cans of chicken

4 cans of sardines

3 lbs. cheese

24 slices of bacon

2 1-lb. cans of dried eggs

3 lbs. nuts, raisins, hard-tack lunch mixture

1 lb. dried milk

1 lb. butter 12 individual packages of rye crisp

1 lb. dried potatoes

2 lbs. erbswurst

4 lbs. sugar

2 l½-lb. cans jam

2 tins cocoa

1 box bouillon cubes

A little tea, salt and pepper.


4 lbs. milk

3 cans sardines

2 lbs. erbswurst

5 lbs. dried apples

8 packages rye crisp

1 slab bacon

3 lbs. chocolate y2 lb. rice

5 gals, gasoline 2½ lbs. dried potatoes 12 cans chicken 7 lbs. dried corn 15 lbs. boiled meat

2 1½-lb. cans jam

2 plum puddings

2 lbs. ham

1 lb. raisins, dried

12 lbs. hard tack

2 lbs. butter (3 more down 6 miles)

2 cans cocoa

7 lbs. dried eggs

4 lbs. honey

1 lb. apricots, dried

4 lbs. cheese

10 lbs. sugar

Had to melt snow for water.

Much has been written about physical conditioning for climbing. On trips such as these, where there is a long approach and constant back-packing of equipment, we found ourselves in excellent condition by the time the actual ascent was to be made. With one exception, all lost considerable weight. Our loads on the lower levels usually ran from sixty-five to eighty-five pounds. I found from experience that in glacier travel more than sixty pounds tended to interfere with secure footing and recovery of balance. This would, of course, vary with the strength of the individual. Above 9,000 feet on Mt. Fairweather, we carried fifteen or twenty pounds, consisting of a little extra clothing, a lunch and photographic material.

1 “The Conquest of Mt. Fairweather,” by Allen Carpe, A. J., November, 1931, Vol. xliii, p. 221.

“The Climb of Mt. Fairweather,” by Allen Carpe, The Mountaineer, December, 1931, Vol. xxiv, p. 7.

“The Ascent of Mt. Fairweather,” by Allen Carpe, Harvard Mountaineering, 1931-2, p. 5.

“Mt. Fairweather is Conquered at Last,” by Terris Moore, The Sportsman, October, 1931, Vol. x, p. 48.

2 See note on the food list at the end of this paper.

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