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North America, United States, Alaska, P 8849, Talkeetna Mountains

P 8849, Talkeetna Mountains. On May 2 Chuck McLaughlin and I found ourselves on an unnamed glacier northwest of P 8849, the highest point of the Talkeetna Mountains (“Sentry Peak”). Pilot Bob Wood’s disappearance had severed our connection with civilization. A hasty conference led to an immediate attempt on the west ridge of P 8849. A combination of deceptive distances, waist-deep snow and heavy surface sloughs slowed progress badly until the ridge crest was reached. Nice cramponning and a 200-foot lead on 50° névé on the icy north face brought us to the moderately shelving snows of the summit cap. The precariously perched summit rocks were reached as a cherry-red sun set behind Mount McKinley to the north close to ten p.m. A dazzling display of the aurora borealis lit our descent to an unpitched camp, where we arrived at one a.m. Good weather through the succeeding days allowed completion of five more climbs in the area, four of them peaks over 8000 feet and one a granite tower. Difficulties encountered hinged primarily on the lengthy approaches with degenerative snow conditions. We climbed the 8100-foot peak a mile northeast of P 8849 via the east face and ridge. We ascended the southern (8100 feet) of the twin peaks a mile southwest of P 8849 and a snow dome of 8000 feet southeast of the latter. We climbed P 8517 two miles south of P 8849 and a granite tower on the end of the long south ridge of P 8849. The pilot’s return on May 14 was welcome as heavy black clouds had already obscured the greater portion of this ruggedly beautiful range.

R. N. Empson, Mountaineers