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North America, Canada, Yukon Territory, Mount Kennedy

Mount Kennedy. The Canadian government has given the name of Mount Kennedy, in honor of the late president, to the lovely mountain which lies just east of Mounts Alverstone and Hubbard, peaks on the Yukon-Alaskan border. The coordinates of the newly named peak are Latitude 60° 20' North, Longitude 138° 58' 30" West. Its altitude is about 13,850 feet. It was discovered in the late winter of 1935 by the National Geographic Yukon Expedition, led by A.A.C. Vice President Bradford Washburn, whose seven members also included mountain rescuer Ome Daiber, former A.A.C. President Robert Bates, and Journal Editor H. Adams Carter. (A.A.J., 1936, 2:4, pp. 427-435.)

Mount Newton, St. Elias Mountains. On June 15 our party arrived in Yakutat with equipment and plans for an attempt on Mount St. Elias. We consisted of William "Smoke” Blanchard, Bill Hackett, Montague Alford, Dr. Edward Keller, Frank Coale, Roy Johnson and Jack Henry. Adverse snow conditions made a skiplane landing on the Newton Glacier or in the Dome Pass area impossible. It had been our intent to climb the Duke of Abruzzi’s route via Russell Col. An alternate plan was used, and unbelievably good weather made it possible for our bush pilot, Layton Bennett, to fly all eight of us within two days to a suitable site on the Seward glacier due north of Mount Newton and Mount St. Elias. We would attempt to approach Russell Col by crossing from the summit of Newton (13,810 feet).

Severe avalanching and extensive crevassing complicated the route selection on Mount Newton. Approaching on the eastern flank of a small subsidiary peak to the north of Newton, we placed Camp I at 8000 feet on a wide col. Camps II, III, and IV were at 10,000, 12,000, and 13,500 feet on the northwest ridge, the only feasible route free from incessant avalanching. On June 28, eleven days out of Base Camp we crossed over the summit of Mount Newton and made a cache of food, fuel and fixed rope about 800 feet below the summit on the ridge to Russell Col. Boiling clouds between our position and St. Elias allowed us only momentary glimpses of the problems which lay before us. A reconnaissance party of four set out from Camp IV early the next day to assess the problems of forcing passage to Russell Col, while the others carried additional supplies to the cache. We were confronted by an enormous gendarme which we climbed, but which would have required, had we continued, a descent of some 300 feet of 75° to 80° rock and ice terminating in a 50-foot vertical face. Beyond this lay a knife-edged, 600-foot-long snow ridge and then another, smaller gendarme. Swirling clouds made it impossible to judge the route beyond this point. The weather started deteriorating at two P.M. that day and both groups returned to Camp IV with all the food which had been cached. We were pinned down there for four days by a storm which dumped four feet of snow on the mountain. If there had been any question about reaching Russell Col, the storm settled it with finality.

The prospects of descending Newton’s steep northern slopes covered with four feet of snow were no more grave than those of waiting for consolidation and possibly finding ourselves facing six or eight feet of snow. Late in the afternoon of July 3 we started our descent to Camp III and were greatly relieved to see our willow wands just showing their tips lower down on the mountain. We arrived back at Base Camp at 6500 feet on July 5 and were again most fortunate to be flown back to Yakutat within two days during a lull between St. Elias storms.

Jack L. Henry, Sierra Club