American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, East Face of La Pérouse, Fairweather Range

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1960

East Face of La Pérouse, Fairweather Range. This 7000-foot high face is of mixed snow, ice and rock. Parts of it were very difficult, up to difficult class 6. The ice lies at angles from 50° to 65° and the face is swept by rock fall and avalanches. The rock is extremely rotten. This face simply could not be climbed when the sun was on it; avalanches do not stop all day. For that reason we planned to climb in the semi-dark Alaskan night, starting at 3 P.M. We were lucky and the condition of the ice was perfect. The first part of the climb was up a ridge which was often difficult and which had rotten rock. The ridge meets a rock face, which we climbed for 500 feet. This, too, was difficult and of bad rock. Above was steep ice, which averaged from 55° to 60°. In the middle of this section the route led by something I have never seen before: a 200-foot ice overhang. The whole climb was a race with the sun, but we reached the summit ridge at 5 a.m. Our route had led us to the eastern summit of La Pérouse (ca. 10,000 feet), from which a ridge runs to the main summit. We imagine that it would have taken us three to five hours more, but we did not try to reach the main sum- mit. We spent the next day on the summit ridge, since the southern face and a couloir we had to descend was swept incessantly by avalanches. We had to wait nearly a full day, until 2 a.m., before the snow was frozen hard and safe to start our descent. The climb was made on June 15 to 17. My climbing companion was Richard Griesmann, of Seattle. (The first ascent of La Pérouse was made in 1942 by a U. S. Geological Survey party. A.A.J., 1953, 8:3, p. 434.—Editor.)

Leopold Scheiblehner

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