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North America, United States and Canada, Alaska and the Yukon, Mt. Logan: Third Ascent

Mt. Logan: Third Ascent.* On 17 May 1950 Gordon Herried, Mark Christensen, Harvey Turner and I headed for Chitina with 850 lbs. of food and equipment. We had been planning an ascent of Mt. Logan all the previous winter and took food to last at least six weeks, with a margin for another week if necessary.

At Chitina we talked with Herb Haley, the pilot who was to do the flying for us, and heard for the first time that Mr. Norman Read’s party was already there, having been flown to the upper Ogilvie Glacier. Mr. Haley told us also that the strip at the end of the Chitina Glacier was too badly gullied for a landing, and that he could take us no closer than the strip at Canyon Creek, about 25 miles down the Chitina River. Christensen and Herried were flown to the Canyon Creek strip and walked from there to the strip at the base of the Chitina Glacier. They took three days to fill and level the strip enough for a landing, and on the fourth day Turner and I were flown in with the rest of our gear. Haley had been able to see a considerable distance up the glacier, and he told us that the nearest clear ice was about 25 miles up the Logan Glacier.

It took five days of travel over the terrible footing characteristic of moraine to reach ice clear of rock debris. In a day and a half of extra hard pressing, we were back at the end of the Chitina Glacier, ready to take the second load up to the first. After another five days of hard going, we were once again on clear ice and able to use our one toboggan. Another had had to be abandoned with a lot of other gear we reckoned we could do without.

For the next several days we proceeded up the Logan Glacier, carrying about 70 lbs. and pulling about 300 lbs. on the toboggan. We established a cache at the point where the Ogilvie Glacier meets the Logan, and then started up the Ogilvie. As we gained altitude, we ran into deep, mushy snow that made pulling the toboggan very hard. Abandoning it, we took all the rest of the gear on our backs. About halfway up the Ogilvie Glacier, Turner’s leg began to hurt, and he decided that it would be best for the party if he turned back. He ate a last lunch with us and then left. It was sad to see him go.

The day after Turner left, we saw Read’s base camp. We dropped our packs about a quarter of a mile away and hurried up to see Severt Jacobson, Read’s packer. We ate a big dinner with him and then started back to fetch our packs. While we were returning with them, Herried suddenly dropped out of sight. As soon as I was sure that Christensen had a good belay, I crawled to the edge of the crevasse and peered in. Herried was down about 30 ft.; he was sitting on a ledge, unhurt. As Jacobson was near by, he came down and gave us a hand getting Herried out. It would have been harder if we had been alone, but we could have done it.

Two days later, when we were about ready to continue our climb, we met Read and Roch as they came off the mountain. We talked a while, and Read offered us the use of anything they had left on the mountain. All we found was one box of prunes. At the base camp (7800 ft.), we left another cache for the trip out. Read left some chocolate and oatmeal, a little of which we used on the way out.

We left the base camp and started up Quartz Ridge at 9.00 P.M. At about 6.00 A.M. we passed one of Read’s igloos on the King Glacier, and at 2.00 P.M. we came to Read’s second campsite, in King Col. The next day we took to work over our gear and prepare for the rest of the climb. Several hours after our resumption of the climb, we were forced to hole up, at about 15,500 ft., in a blizzard. On the following day, which was clear, we proceeded up and over the 18,- 500-ft. pass—a climb that took about twelve hours of steady going. As we started down the other side of the pass, a storm came up. The wind was so strong that we thought our silk tent could not stand it, so we spent two hours building an igloo.

The next day took us to our final camp (about 18,500 ft.). So far we had found only a few of Read’s trail markers and no tracks. On the day after, June 17th, at 12.15 P.M., we stood on the summit of Mt. Logan. After taking a few pictures, we turned and headed for camp. Eleven days after we left the base camp, we picked up our cache. About five days later, we were back at the base of the Chitina Glacier.

We rested a day and then started down the river on two rafts, Herried alone on one, Christensen and I on the other. We made good progress, floating downstream most of the day. Later, in a bad stretch of rapids, we were separated. Christensen and I rammed a pile of driftwood and, since we could not get the raft loose, took to the shore and started walking. We were quite worried about Herried, because we had all the food in a waterproof duffel bag. Herried had only enough for one or two days. In the meantime, as we learned later, Herried had capsized, lost some of his equipment, and nearly drowned. Very fortunately, he succeeded in reaching shore with our film, which was well sealed.

Christensen and I spent the next five days walking down the river without once seeing any sign of Herried. Eventually, we arrived at Jacobson’s main cabin on his trap line, about 30 miles from McCarthy. About two hours after our arrival, the door burst open— and there stood Herried, who had been only a day behind us all the way down the river. He had found food to last five days in one of Jacobson’s caches, but he had been forced to leave our film and other gear in the cache in order to carry enough to eat.

We arrived in Anchorage on July 19th, exactly eight weeks after our departure. Our film is still in the cache, three attempts to retrieve it having been stopped by bad flying weather. It is well sealed, and we hope that when we have time and money to try again it will still be good.

Alston Paige

*Cf. “Mt. Logan: Second and Third Ascents,” A.A.J., VIII (1951), 191-2.—Ed.