American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Mount Logan: Second and Third Ascents

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1951

Alaska-Yukon Territory

Mt. Logan: Second and Third Ascents. On 17 June 1950 Norman H. Read (aged 60) and André Roch, well-known Swiss climber, made the second ascent of Mt. Logan (19,850 ft.). Read, with five others, had made the first ascent on 23 June 1925. Three students from the University of Alaska, G. Herreid, A. Paige and C. Christensen, reached the central (highest) summit nine days after Read and Roch.

Read and Roch flew in from Cordova and landed on the Ogilvie Glacier at about 7000 ft. Camping near the site of the 1925 base camp, at about 8000 ft., they waited two weeks, in broken weather, for more food and supplies to be flown in. The air drop turned out to be not very successful: most of the supplies were scattered in soft snow, over a wide area, and quickly covered by a fresh snow fall. Despite the losses and shortages, Read and Roch were determined to make the ascent if they possibly could. Encountering weather and temperatures not quite so severe as those experienced in 1925, they did attain the central peak—highest of the three. They were able to confirm the opinion of the 1925 party that the E. peak is lower by perhaps 100-200 ft.; but, owing to extreme shortage of food, they could not go over the two miles to climb it. [In August 1949, flying at 14,000 ft. a few miles from the summit mass, Wood and Hall likewise came to the conclusion that the E. peak is a little lower than the central peak.]

When Read and Roch returned to their base camp at the head of the Ogilvie Glacier, they met the three students. One of their party had just been rescued from a deep crevasse with the help of one of Read’s party staying at the camp. Read reports that the students told him that without this aid they would have been unable to rescue their man. Read told the students that they could follow what was left of his tracks, and that they were welcome to any of his supplies which they could find. Read and Roch walked down the Ogilvie, Logan and Chitina Glaciers, and flew out from a hastily smoothed-off landing strip on the Chitina gravel flats near the 1925 Hubrick’s Camp. According to Read, the ensuing two to three weeks, during which the three students made their climb, provided the finest weather he had ever seen in Alaska.

Herreid, leader of the students, had also led a party up Mt. McKinley in 1947, following in Washburn’s tracks and benefiting by knowledge that some of Washburn’s supplies would be found on the way. Herreid has thus become the first man to have climbed the two highest peaks in North America. He was fortunate in having extraordinarily good weather conditions on both ascents. It is to be hoped that he appreciates the vast difference between his experience of following on the heels of immediate predecessors, in the same season, and the experiences of the pioneering parties— Stuck’s and Karstens’ three-week struggle with the earthquake- shattered ice and névé ridge at 13,000 ft., for example, and the long journeys of approach to both McKinley and Logan. The airplane has greatly reduced and simplified the labor involved in these two ascents. Once the route has been found, neither of them involves very much technically difficult climbing. The chief requisites are knowledge of Alaskan glaciers, proper food and equipment, and the willingness to take some buffeting by the Arctic.

H. S. Hall, Jr.

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