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North America, Canada, Northwest Territories, Logan Mountains

Logan Mountains. On July 7, Lew Surdam and I were flown to "Beaver Lake,” at the upper end of the Hole-in-the-Wall valley. On the same afternoon we packed up to a camp in the broad, grassy basin below the southeast face of "Caribou Peak.” Camp was barely set up when we were beset by storm, heralding the poor weather which was to plague our entire trip. After a couple of days, the weather cleared, and on July 11 we climbed "Caribou Peak.” After several pitches on the east ridge, we were stopped by a formidable and unlovely ceiling; we retreated and climbed the peak by a delightful variant of the original route, on the western edge of the southeast face. On the 14th we climbed triple-summited "Cerberus Spire” (Peak 7).1 Entangled ribs and couloirs led without difficulty to a point below the southern summit. A wide variety of tactics proved necessary in following the knife-edged ridge northward, bypassing the two lower summits, to the main summit; route-finding was intricate, and a fixed rope was left over one rappel. On the return we briefly visited the two lower summits. The following day we arose in a leisurely manner and climbed "Foolscap Peak” (Peak 6), the highest point in the immediate vicinity, by its long, sinuous southwest couloir, roping up only for a few exposed moves near the top. On July 16 we crossed the narrow col between "Caribou Peak” and "Mount Elysium” (Peak 8), crossed a small glacier and attacked the eastern buttress of "Elysium’s” north face. From a precarious posititon atop a narrow tongue of snow, a frightfully loose pitch led to the firm granite above. After half a dozen moderate, but pleasant leads up the broad face, we were forced to climb a 50-foot wall, liberally festooned with dripping moss and slime. Then followed five more fine pitches up the slightly concave and narrowing face above — jam cracks, laybacks, flakes — finally placing us on top of a narrow pillar abutting on the final, smooth wall. Two splendid pitches on this wall brought us to the top of the last tower of the peak’s long east ridge. There remained yet a few difficulties in surmounting the final portion of the ridge, and we climbed onto the spacious summit in time to be warmed by the last, ruddy rays of the setting sun. Fortunately, the descent by the south ridge was not difficult, and we were back at camp before midnight.

Two days later we backpacked across meadows and rolling uplands to the pass leading west to the "Valley of Chaos.” After climbing the small peak which forms the southeast rampart of the pass, we descended to the west and then contoured around northward into the narrow, hanging valley below the towering eastern faces of "Mount Apollo” and "Mount Prometheus” (Peaks 18 and 19), where a tiny plot of grass in the midst of jumbled boulders barely afforded a suitable campsite. Two days of rain intervened, and then we climbed "Apollo” on July 21. After surmounting a headwall to reach the col at the north end of our valley, we turned up the east ridge of our objective, eventually crossing the upper northeast face on a series of steeply-pitched ramps and finished the climb by the northwest ridge, gaining the spectacular summit monolith by means of a strenuous layback. The following day we climbed "Prometheus” by the great snow couloir cleaving its southern side, cutting onto the rock of its left wall for a couple of difficult pitches near the summit. Our final climb in this area was "Pandemonium Peak,” the easy, double-topped peak directly east of camp. On July 25 we packed up and started back to our original camp. Before reaching the pass, we left our packs, crossed a broad ridge to the south into a delectable basin containing a shallow tarn, and climbed "Mount Abraxas,” a fine outlying peak overlooking the Flat River. The route, utilizing the north and east ridges, was relatively straightforward. We reached our old camp late that night; the rain which started before morning kept us tentbound for the next week. The weather finally cleared on August 2, and we moved camp to the lake-filled basin encircled by the "Zodiac Ridge.” However, more bad weather moved in, and our only remaining climb was an ascent of "Mount Aries,” slogging through over a foot of heavy, fresh snow. When we were flown out on August 16, deep snow was lying well down into the valleys, and it was clear that winter had already begun.

William J. Buckingham

1. Numbers refer to the map in A.A.J., 1966, 15:1.