American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Canada, Yukon Territory, Second Ascent of Lucania and Third of Steele

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

Second Ascent of Lucania and Third of Steele. On June 19 Gerry Roach, Mike Humphreys, Gary Lukis and I assembled on the Chitina airfield. Gerry and half our equipment took off up the Copper River valley toward Lucania, 150 miles to the southeast. (First ascent by Robert Bates and Bradford Washburn on July 8, 1937. See A.A.J., 1938, 3:2, pp. 119-126.) Unable to land near our planned west ridge route, Gerry, with our snowshoes, was set down under Lucania’s north face. On June 23 Mike, Gary and I were landed under Mount Slaggard six miles up the glacier from Gerry at 9000 feet. By night we established a cache at the edge of the main stream of the Chitina and advanced slowly in thigh-deep snow over the badly crevassed glacier to rescue Gerry. Two days later, Base Camp was established under the unclimbed north ridge, which rises in a clean line from 8500 to 13,500 feet to the Lucania-Steele col. On June 29 we set “Toe Camp” on rocks 1000 feet above the glacier. Above came a section of rocks and cornices, a 100-foot steep-snow and loose-rock section, ice and then the main ridge. The next day we brought loads over the “Lip,” where a storm intervened. On July 5 we set out from “Lip Camp” for Mount Steele (16,644 feet). Weather throughout the climb was unusually good. The snow conditions, while bad—we sank in a foot or two on Alaska trail snowshoes—were better than those encountered by Bates and Washburn. We slowly gained height. At eight p.m. we changed to crampons for the last bit of the small graceful summit cone. On July 7 High Camp was established on a large bench under the east peak of Lucania. On the 8th we climbed the upper north face of Lucania from the western end of this bench. We lingered on the summit (17,150 feet) just long enough to shoot a sky rocket at the approaching storm.

Jerry Halpern, Stanford Alpine Club

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