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North America, United States, Alaska, Mount St. Elias, Attempt from North

Mount St. Elias, Attempt from North. Between June 16 and July 5 a party of seven attempted Mount St. Elias (18,008 feet) from the north. Members of the expedition were Boyd Everett, leader, Ted Church, Rein Grabbi, Robert Jones, Ants Leemets, Robert Page and Kurt Wehbring. We intended to ascend the previously unclimbed north face and on June 16 were landed four miles from it on the Columbus Glacier at 7200 feet by Jack Wilson of Glenallen. At 8:45 a.m. the next morning an earthquake of magnitude 5 to 5½ was experienced at Base Camp which caused an avalanche cloud to pass over the camp. On the following days, unusual avalanche activity was seen on all the surrounding mountain walls, including parts of the proposed route on the north face. On June 19 we decided to switch our objective from the face to the also unclimbed northwest ridge, a longer but safer route. Reaching Camp II at 12,000 feet in a col on the ridge involved six miles of technically easy but heavily crevassed glacier walking. Between 12,000 and 14,500 feet, however, we encountered continuous technical difficulties over rock, snow and ice, which averaged 50° in steepness and included several rock pitches of NCCS class 4 difficulty. On June 26 a second earthquake of magnitude 4½ was experienced while we were descending a 50° ice slope at 13,000 feet. The ice slope avalanched some 500 feet below us but it remained firm where we were. All our 2000 feet of fixed rope was used between 12,000 and 13,400 feet and we could have used an additional 2000 feet. Its lack contributed to a 250-foot leader fall by Boyd Everett at 13,500 feet on June 29. The weather was generally favorable and in spite of the technical problems of the climb, we reached a col between 14,500 and 15,000 feet on the evening of July 2. Bad weather turned back an attempt on the summit by Leemets and Everett on July 3. Although eight days of food remained at high camp, we descended the mountain to meet a prearranged flight on July 5. All of us were on leave from jobs and had to be back in New York by July 7. Photographs show there were no further technical problems beyond our high point.

Boyd N. Everett, Jr.