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North America, United States, Alaska, Mount KImball, Alaska Range

Mount Kimball, Alaska Range. In June a party from the Alaska Alpine Club, consisting of Charles Deehr, Finley Kennel, and me, attempted unclimbed Mount Kimball (9680 feet), which is located on the Mount Hayes A-2 quadrangle. We were flown into the Slate Creek mining camp near the Chistochina Glacier after an unsuccessful attempt to walk in 30 miles through brush and snow. A day of snowshoeing up the glacier gave the first view of the mountain and the proposed routes. From the south the peak shows a steep pyramid covered with broken-up ice and rime which overhangs 200 feet on the west ridge. The southeast ridge leads up to a face and must be approached either up a spectacular icefall, or by a four-mile traverse along a ridge with four peaks over 9000 feet high. A steep rock and snow ridge which leads up from the south glacier field seemed to offer the only hope, although it had several gendarmes and led steeply into the ice and rime near the top. The summit itself, a steep horn, could not be seen from below at this distance. We took a day moving up to Base Camp at 6500 feet on the glacier below the peak and reconnoitering the south ridge. Three days were spent waiting for weather and for 10 inches of new snow to settle and stop avalanching. A summit attempt was begun at 2:00 a.m. in the Alaskan summer twilight. A large gendarme at 8000 feet on the south ridge proved very difficult to traverse. Two leads on the east side took about an hour and a half. We decided that it was unsafe to continue, as the route seemed possible only when the snow and rocks were frozen in. The route above this gendarme consisted of a knife-edged ridge with three more gendarmes to traverse and then ice blocks and rime above, which did not look inviting but under better snow conditions might go. The party then reconnoitered the northwest side of the mountain by climbing a steep avalanche slope at the northwest end of the cirque. The north side of the mountain was deep in powder snow, and the glacier was much more broken up than the one on the southern side. The north ridge was difficult to approach through three miles of crevasse field, then up a wall at the end of the cirque. The lower north ridge looked possible, but led steeply up into the same sort of rime ice as the southern ridges and did not warrant a full-scale attempt under these snow conditions.

Walking out, the party found the crevasse field on the south side even more difficult with rapidly melting snow bridges. The mountain is a real challenge and may be possible only with the better snow conditions which may come later in the summer or in the fall.

Gene Wescott, Alaska Alpine Club