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North America, United States, Alaska, Climbs in the Wrangell Range

Climbs in the Wrangell Range. On July 8 a six-man expedition under the leadership of Ed Lane and further consisting of Barbara Lilley, Dick Beach, Wally Henry, Bill Morris and me arrived at Gulkana Airfield, just north of Glennallen. After several days of waiting for weather to clear, Jack Wilson flew us to our main Base Camp at 8100 feet on the snowfield between Sanford and Wrangell. Immediately we began making preparations to climb our primary objectives—a first ascent of P 13,654, a mile- and-a-half south of Sanford, and the first ascent of the south ridge of Mount Sanford (16,237 feet). Camp I was established at 11,150 feet on P 13,654. In the process of trying to establish radio contact, a first ascent of P 11,608 was made on July 13; this lies two-and-a-quarter miles due south of Sanford. The summit of P 13,654 was reached by all six members of the expedition on July 14. Camp II was placed 100 feet below the summit. Radio contact with the outside world was made from there for the one and only time on the expedition. During three days of generally miserable weather, the six of us tried unsuccessfully to establish a route along the mile-long, knife-edged ridge which separates P 13,654 and the south ridge of Sanford. The attempt failed mainly due to the soft snow and large séracs encountered along the ridge, as well as the weather. We returned to Base Camp on July 18 to prepare for the remaining two weeks. We were to attempt a circuit of the area lying south of Base Camp, climb Mount Zanetti1, traverse the summits of Mount Wrangell and make the first ascent of Mount Jarvis. Shortly after we left Base Camp on July 19, it began to snow heavily and to blow. After finding our route with a compass for several hours, we managed to set up the Logan tent in a crevasse, where we spent the next two nights and a day. On July 21, the weather cleared and we quickly took advantage of the lull to continue our trip. Dropping packs in the saddle between Zanetti and Wrangell, we made the first recorded ascent of Mount Zanetti (13,009 feet). After retrieving our packs, we continued on to the summit plateau of Mount Wrangell. The summit of Wrangell, still giving evidence of volcanic action, yielded a pleasant surprise. We found a U. S. Army research hut heated by live steam from a crater, where for three days we waited out a storm. Although the outside temperature dropped as low as 9° F., the temperature inside the hut remained a constant 92°. We took advantage of several lulls in the storm to climb two of the five summits of Wrangell (P 13,951 or Crater Summit and P 14,013), southwest and west respectively of the highest summit.2 The six of us snowshoed from the hut to the saddle between Mount Wrangell and Mount Jarvis (13,421 feet) on July 25. After nearly two days of weathering another storm, Lane, Barbara Lilley, Morris and Beach made the first ascent of Jarvis on July 26. Plans for the other two of us to climb Jarvis on the 27th were interrupted by the abrupt and unexpected arrival of Jack Wilson, who had taken advantage of the prief period of good weather to pick us up a day early.

John P. Thornton

1. Robert Dunn and Ralph Gray named Mount Zanetti for a Cuban with whom they attended Harvard before the turn of the century. They named it while attempting Mount Wrangell in 1900. (See “Finding a Volcano”, Outing Magazine, December 1902, 41, pp. 321-2.) The current map misspells it “Zanett” but will be corrected in future printings. Enrique de Cruzat Zanetti was born in Cuba on January 12, 1875. He received from Harvard his A.B. in 1897 and his LL.B. in 1901. He died in 1940. His cousin, J. Enrique Zanetti, states, “He was called ‘The Count’ at Harvard because he dressed extremely well and had a certain air about him. He and Bobby Dunn were great friends.” The Harvard Alumni Bulletin said of him after his death, “He will be remembered for his air of distinction. He was one of the most colorful members of the class.”

2. Vin Hoeman has kindly supplied the following information. "Dunn made the first ascent of Mount Wrangell with William Soule on July 30, 1908, but undoubtedly went to the Crater Peak (13,951 feet) and almost surely did not go to the true summit (14,163 feet) over two miles away. I am uncertain who did actually first climb to Wrangell’s high point. Possibly members of the 1954 expedition that built the lab. At any rate the highest peak has been reached, as Doug Bingham was there in 1966.”