American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Canada, Yukon Territory, Mount King George

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

Mount King George. The decision last winter of the Canadian government to rename East Hubbard Mount Kennedy generated much climbing interest. It quickly became obvious that anyone wanting the first ascent would have to go earlier than the usual climbing period. Arthur Fitch, Wayne Kellner, Michael Shor and I made plans to reach the mountain on the unheard of early date of April 2 only to be beaten out by the National Geographic party on March 23. With our objective climbed, we directed our efforts to Mount King George (12,300 feet), the isolated and spectacular peak 20 miles east of Mount Logan, which had been attempted unsuccessfully several times by its difficult east ridge. There appeared to be a relatively easy route on the southwest side. Weather delayed us two days in Whitehorse but on April 4 we were landed on the Hubbard Glacier southwest of the mountain at 5500 feet. Two days of easy but dull slogging over snow-choked crevasses on snowshoes in deep snow got us to 8500 feet. We left the relatively level glacier to climb to the narrow southwest ridge, which rose 2500 feet to the summit cone. The first 500 feet were up a 45° snow face, which threatened to avalanche. We quickly traversed to the left to the protection of' some rocks. Higher, the ridge became narrow and corniced, exhilarating but not difficult. We dug a tent platform on the ridge at about 9500 feet. The next day, April 8, we left camp at 7:30 A.M. in partly cloudy weather and 0° F temperature, reasonable for this elevation in early April. The ridge was mostly firm snow, and only at its very top, near 11,000 feet, did we hit a rope-length of ice that required step-cutting. Above, on the broad plateau south of the summit, the snow was wind-packed. About 600 vertical feet from the top it appeared we would be on the summit in half an hour, but Fitch, who was in the lead on a 35° slope, suddenly slowed. Under an inch or two of powder snow lay solid, black ice. When the angle increased to 45°, he had to cut small steps. A cloud cap covered the summit area and the wind gradually increased to about 40-mph. The steps drifted in after the leader had gone on, were lost and had to be recut. Six rope- lengths of this ice took three hours. Above the ice, there were a few hundred feet of easy snow-walking. At 3:40 all four of us reached the summit. The descent, aided by rappels of 400 and 150 feet, was completed to our high camp just after dark at 8:30. The next day we descended uneventfully to Base Camp.

Boyd N. Everett, Jr.

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