American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, "Ice Cream Cone Mountain," Chugach Range

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1968

“Ice Cream Cone Mountain” Chugach Range. After a hair-raising crossing of the murky, rushing Matanuska River in a delapidated rowboat, John Samuelson, Hans Van der Laan and I followed fine, three-foot-wide moose freeways up the east fork of Carpenter Creek, over gravel bars and on the second day, still unroped, up the glacier at its head to 6400 feet. We were away from camp at six a.m. on July 3. We climbed for half a mile diagonally upward on the hanging glacier that clings to the right side of the jagged ridge, then along the ridge except where forced back onto the hanging glacier to avoid the rough crest. Because the 45° ice was overlain with eight inches of snow, we should have belayed. Finally the rock of a steep section melted into the mists above. Below, rock and snow pillars plunged valley ward like the Eigerwand. We dug out our iron and proceeded. A 120-foot pitch over snow and rock led to a 70-foot couloir. I groped up the third lead, having to brush away eight to ten inches of snow to find piton cracks. More of the same led to a 40-foot chimney which split a nearly vertical band of rock. The back wall was ice and offered holds to the crampons we still wore. The side walls, though well iced, offered rock holds. I suppose this section would be F6 under good conditions, but it was more difficult as we found it. After emerging from the chimney, I followed a comparatively gentle snow rib for 50 feet to the level ridge crest. Beyond, the ridge went on endlessly in a series of false summits. We reached the summit (8675 feet) at ten p.m. The wind and wet falling snow that had been with us most of the day increased and so we bivouacked four hours before rappelling to the comfort of high camp. The walk out and the river crossing took two more days. NCCS IV, F6.

David P. Johnston

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