American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

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

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1965

Mount Torbert, Alaska Range. On the afternoon of May 14 John Gar- dey, Dr. George Wichman, Dr. Rod Wilson, and I were flown in the 100 miles from Anchorage by Lowell Thomas, Jr. in his Cessna 180 to a point on the Triumvirate Glacier at 4000 feet, approximately due north of the summit of Mount Torbert. After "glacierizing” the plane, we roped and skied up the gently rising glacier another two miles to the base of the first icefall at about 5500 feet where the first camp was established. The next day we climbed another 3000 feet, alternately on skis and crampons, to a second camp at 8500 feet at the top of the second icefall, where it levels off onto a large plateau leading to the final ascent. That day, climbing was "comfortable,” with mild temperatures, an overcast sky, and good visibility. The 16th dawned clear and cold with a promise of ideal conditions. We left camp for the summit at 6:30 A.M., with nothing in the packs but lunch, equipment and survival gear, and made excellent progress on skis across the large sastrugied plateau to the base of the final climb at about 10,500 feet. Here we traded skis for crampons again. After a rather abrupt climb over ice interspersed with deceptively hidden and badly bridged crevasses, and a lucky crossing of the bergschrund at about 11,000 feet, we reached the summit field at noon. It took us exactly one hour to traverse this to the highest point (11,413 feet). The descent was highlighted by Rod Wilson’s unexpected 15-foot descent into a crevasse and a fine ski run back to camp after he was extricated. The next day passed quickly, mainly due to good roped skiing, a well marked trail, and excellent flying weather for our trip back to Anchorage, which we completed at 4:00 p.m.

Paul B. Crews

Note: All dates in this section refer to 1964 unless stated otherwise.

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