American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Sierra Club

  • Club Activities
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1957

Sierra Club. This year Sierra Club climbers roamed many of the great mountain areas of the world in search of climbing. Foremost was an attempt on Rakaposhi (7790 meters) in the Karakoram by a British-American party, including Club members Richard Irvin and Robert Swift. This team reached a new high point of 23,500 feet, but as is often the case, storms ended their push for the summit. Previous to this Irvin had climbed in New Zealand and in addition to several ascents produced a new route on Mount Cook. Not to be outdone, Bob Swift completed a few climbs in Wales on the way home.

Closer to home, climbers from the San Francisco Bay Area made a first ascent of Mount Snowside (9600 feet) in the area south of Bella Coola in the Canadian Coast Range. This group included Will Siri, Jim Wilson, John Dorsey, George Whitmore, Dave Rynin, and Dick Houston. Rock climbers were also active: spectacular Spider Rock, in the Southwest, fell to Southern Californians, and another new route was completed in Yosemite Valley, on the west side of Liberty Cap above Nevada Falls. Although heavily climbed, Yosemite still offers some new routes. Foremost is the sheer North Face of Half Dome. This gigantic wall has now been attempted several times, and at least one party is planning to lay siege in 1957.

On more organized fronts, the club conducted mountain trips to the Tetons and the Glacier Peak area of Washington. Possibly the most ambitious club-sponsored trip was led by Al Baxter, with assistance from Bruce Meyer, Dick Long, and Leigh Ortenburger. This trip penetrated into the area east of Mount St. Elias, in Canada. Although stopped by weather from reaching any summits, this group brought back glowing reports about the area, as well as of the management of the trip. The final days were spent rafting the large river that drains this area.

Another phase of climbing has been the continuing work of the Mountain Rescue Committee. In addition to local practice sessions in the San Francisco Bay area the Committee published a translation of some European rescue material. The Committee was also involved in one rescue attempt in Yosemite Valley. Although still on a limited scale, it is felt that the rescue group will extend its activities in the near future.

Richard C. Houston, Chairman, Mountaineering Committee

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