American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing
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North America, United States, Alaska, Kahiltna Peak, Mount Crosson and Other First Ascents

  • Climbs And Expeditions
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  • Publication Year: 1961

Kahiltna Peak, Mount Crosson and other first ascents. Only one party had previously walked the entire length of the Kahiltna Glacier; that was six years ago when time restrictions prevented their doing any climbing on the way. (Beckey, Harrer and Meyerbohm. See A.A.J., 1955, 9:2, p. 48.) We had decided to concentrate first on Mount McKinley and then to try the unclimbed peaks on either side as we descended the glacier. The glacier would be used for traveling and camping whenever possible. After our airdrop at 6800 feet on the Kahiltna, we should have to carry everything for the rest of the trip. After our successful climb of McKinley (see above), Jerry Koch, Jim Richardson, Don Anderson and I left our 10,200-foot Base Camp near Kahiltna Pass on July 10 and traveled up the east fork of the Kahiltna Glacier to the base of the south ridge of the higher Kahiltna Peak (13,440 feet. See Plate 8 of A.A.J., 1960, 12:1.) We gained this ridge via a steep snowfield on the east side and found it a series of schrunds and cornices. It was an interesting thirteen-hour climb to the summit. Our next quest was Mount Crosson (12,800 feet). We moved our camp to 6800 feet at the base of the mountain. The route followed an easy southeast ridge. We next climbed a beautiful 10,450-foot peak across the Kahiltna Glacier from Mount Crosson, which we called “Bergchen” (“little Mountain” in German). Its east ridge provided an interesting ice climb with many problems. We moved camp downglacier by ski-toboggan, which worked well at night when the snow was frozen. Our next summit, a 9000-foot peak southeast of Mount Foraker, was easily attained from the north. Since the weather then turned bad, we were unable to complete any further climbs. We found the lower Kahiltna Glacier fairly easy traveling, having fewer crevasse problems now than those reported by the previous expedition. Much worse were the twelve days of rain and the chest-deep river crossings. We encountered only one day of bad brush going across the tundra to Talkeetna.

John H. Newman, Jr.

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