American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

United States, Sierra Club, 1947

  • Notes
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1948

Sierra Club, 1947. The 43rd Annual High Trip, with an attendance o£ about 100, travelled for four weeks under the leadership of D. R. Brower (A.A.C.) in the central Sierra Nevada, from Banner, Ritter and the Minarets S. over Silver and Seldon Passes and out via Pine Creek Pass in the Mt. Humphreys region. The Base Camp, with an average attendance of 125, under the leadership of Oliver Kehrlein, specialized in intensive exploration of the Palisade region. Their camp, for two periods of two weeks each, was at timberline on the Fifth Lake, below Palisade Glacier. Four Burro Trips of 20 members each, radiating from Kearsarge Pass, gave instruction in the broad phases of mountaineering and exploration of the wilderness. A two-week Knapsack Trip permitted climbing in the Evolution Group, the Devil’s Crags and the Palisades.

An official Sierra Club Knapsack party of 23 climbed for two weeks in the Wind River Range.

A private party of Sierra Club members climbed in the Mt. Tiedemann region for approximately three weeks in August. Those participating were Oscar A. Cook, Ulf Ramm-Ericson, Rupert Gates, Robin Hansen, Richard C. Houston, Fletcher E. Hoyt, Fritz Lippmann and Howard Parker. The party made 12 first ascents and reached 17 different summits. A full account will appear in the 1948 annual number of the Sierra Club Bulletin.

On the seventh attempt on Mt. Confederation, British Columbia, Ruth and John Mendenhall made the first ascent.

On 2 September 1946 the party of Jack Arnold, Fritz Lippmann, Anton Nelson and Robin Hansen made the first ascent of the Lost Arrow, in Yosemite Valley. Their route involved roping down from the rim to the notch joining the arrow to the wall and then climbing the final difficult spire by means of Prusik knots on a nylon rope brought over the summit. The technique was similar to that used on some of the “unclimbable” needles of the Dolomites. Only normal rock climbing equipment was used, and great credit must be given to the party for their skill and ingenuity in working out the problem. Nevertheless, an ascent by more conventional means from the base of the arrow, without assistance from an upper rope, remained as a great challenge.

On 3 September 1947 Anton Nelson and John Salathe reached the summit 103 hours after leaving the base. For 1200 ft. the average climbing angle exceeds 80°. By use of specially designed pitons and a number of expansion bolts on the relatively short stretches of flawless 90° granite, they were enabled to complete the entire climb without assistance or protection from above. Their attitude toward the accomplishment is particularly gratifying. Their account of the climb gives no sense of braggadocio or competitive spirit, but simply of an intense fascination in accomplishing an extremely difficult climbing problem. They insist that throughout the climb each was confident that he could hold the other in the event of a fall.*

Two serious accidents marred the Club’s long safety record. On 13 July 1947 A1 Baxter broke both legs in a long fall on the higher Cathedral Spire. On 17 August 1947 John Hood was killed by a long fall on a local practice climb near San Francisco. Both accidents will be fully reported by the Safety Committee of the American Alpine Club.

R. M. Leonard

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