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North America, United States, Alaska, Mount Marcus Baker, Chugach Range

Mount Marcus Baker, Chugach Range. Mount Marcus Baker (13,176 feet), the highest peak of the Chugach Range, was first climbed in 1938 by Bradford Washburn and party. (A.A.J., 1939, 3:3, pp. 255-264.) Later unsuccessful attempts to climb the mountain were made by Paul Crews and John Johnston of Anchorage in 1956 and 1957 up the Matanuska Glacier. On August 29, Crews, Hans Metz, Gregg Erickson, and I started up the Matanuska Glacier from the Glenn Highway. Marcus Baker presents no serious technical difficulties from the north side, the real difficulty being the perennial bad weather and the 30 mile approach chopped up by numerous crevasses and icefalls. On the evening of the fourth day we made our climbing camp on the north ridge at 9000 feet, approximately 1000 feet lower than Washburn’s highest camp in 1938. Next morning, after great difficulty with frozen boots, we started the final climb at 7:30 A.M. It was overcast and snowing lightly; temperature was 20°. After plowing through deep powder snow up the ridge to a large gendarme at about 10,500 feet, we strapped on crampons and climbed a 40° ice slope to a saddle at 11,200 feet. The weather broke momentarily and we were able to look down the Knik Glacier and at the mountains around it. From the saddle the going was slow through knee-deep powder snow. The visibility dropped to a few hundred feet and we took care to mark our trail with willow-wands. It was 3:15 p.m. when we reached the north peak, 12,250 feet. The wind was blowing an estimated 25 mph, temperature about 5° F. Through drifting clouds we saw the main peak, three miles away and 900 feet higher, but lack of daylight forced us to turn back. Camp was reached at dusk. The trip down the glacier took three days. Although we had not reached the main peak because of time limitations and a misplaced "high” camp, we still had made the second ascent of the north peak and were the first party to walk a round trip on the Matanuska Glacier—about 80 miles in seven days.

Helga Bading, Mountaineering Club of Alaska