American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Alaska Range, Boston Brooks-Traleika Expedition

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1966

Boston Brooks-Traleika Expedition, Alaska Range. Having selected such a grandiose name, our group consisting of William Bousman, Earl Hamilton, William May, Hallam Murray and me set forth to attempt the peaks around the Brooks and Traleika Glaciers. By the 4th of August the expedition was reunited at Base Camp at Oastler Pass, one of us having accompanied the packhorses a day ahead of the others. Sloth being one of our redeeming features, it was not until the 6th that we moved to Traleika Base, located at the toe of the glacier draining the Carpé-Tatum col. Thence we attempted Carpé on the following day—unsuccessfully, since we got no higher than 9500 feet, on the wrong mountain. Weather and supplies drove us back to Oastler Pass, where we mouldered in a storm, amusing ourselves with cribbage and literature until we were able to reoccupy Traleika Base on August 13. We broke camp the next morning, packing it up the icefall to 8100 feet at the toe of the subsummit of Tatum, where we left it before continuing up into the cirque south of Tatum and then up Tatum’s south ridge, an enjoyable mixed climb (11,140 feet). For the descent we used the British route of 1956, the southwest ridge, arriving at camp in a mild state of exhaustion. We slept the following day. Carpé being our next objective, we made an abortive attempt, halted by deep powder snow, on the 16th from the Tatum- Carpé col. After a late start on the 17th we successfully made its first ascent by the east buttress of the northeast face and then continued up the northeast ridge to arrive on top (12,550 feet) in the early afternoon. The descent was by the north buttress, a 15-minute plow down an elbow- deep trough to our high point of the previous day—a memorable evening with a truly fine sunset. August 18 and 19 were spent moving to and establishing Brooks Base at 5500 feet on the Brooks Glacier. We moved to high camp at 7800 feet on the glacier draining the south side of Deception on the 20th and in flawless weather climbed the peak (11,825 feet) the following day by its south ridge. Upon moving camp over to the glacier draining the south side of Brooks on August 22, we were assailed by foul weather, which set us back to the primitive state of existence, cribbage and James Bond. Three days, 24 inches of snow and advanced cases of cabin fever drove us out on the 26th to do anything to escape camp. The first ascent of East Tripyramid (11,250 feet) seemed the best escape and by the time we reached the col between it and Brooks our white-out had lifted and we were able to enjoy the pleasantly devious route up its north ridge. The lighter spirits in the party vied in punching the biggest holes in the summit cornice and were heroically photographed. On August 27, Hal, my brother and I were off up our tracks of yesterday to the col and then up the south ridge of Brooks (11,940 feet) a new route to the top. Alas—we burned the last* of our gas that evening and so beat a leisurely retreat to Wonder Lake, getting out by the 30th after a delightful trip.

John Bousman, Mountaineering Club of Alaska

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