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Challenges in Alaska and the Yukon, 1968

Challenges in Alaska and the Yukon, 1968

Bradford Washburn

DURING the last few years Boston’s Museum of Science has been one of the major sources of information for those contemplating pioneer climbs or mountain exploration in Alaska and northwestern Canada. As time goes by and the responsibilities of my job tend to increase, it has become apparent to me that a number of exciting firsts that I have kept neatly hidden in my hip pocket "for future reference and action” are now well beyond the limits of both my time and my body! Therefore, I have enjoyed suggesting them to others, either in the A.A.J. or through correspondence, and have had wonderful vicarious experience watching what has happened.

As the competent and resourceful new-generation climbers take their toll of virgin ascents each year, those that are left become progressively more difficult or more inaccessible (or both), and a good many of them, like the east face of Mount McKinley, begin to involve very substantial inevitable dangers as well as technical difficulties.

The illustrations which appear on the next eight pages represent a number of the most exciting challenges that lie immediately ahead of us. I have not marked suggested routes on these peaks because they are so obvious. The only virgin peak in the group is The Rooster Comb (10,180 feet) eight miles south-southeast of Mount McKinley. How it has managed to escape even an attempt, lying only two miles west of Don Sheldon s main landing field in the Ruth Amphitheatre remains something of a mystery! The great ridges on Kennedy, Alverstone, Hubbard and St. Elias are inaccessible but magnificent and tempting big climbs. The beautiful granite-and-ice cirque southeast of Mount Hunter should prove superb and highly accessible for those not wishing to get involved in a major exploit.

Let’s hope that next year’s A.A.J. will tell the stories of success on some of these exciting opportunities. Even the least of them will require substantial competence. The great southern ridges of Foraker are major challenges for planning, ability and endurance.