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North America, United States, Alaska, Snow White, Alaska Range

Snow White, Alaska Range. On March 15 John Boyd, Hans Nielson and I left the Richardson Highway to ski up the Eel Glacier (also known as the Fels Glacier). By the following afternoon, with excellent snow conditions and good but cold weather, we skied to our high camp at 8000 feet in the icefall at the head of the glacier. On the 17th we set out for the summit above on crampons in 25°, 20-knot winds. Hans had to turn back a short time after leaving camp to warm his rapidly freezing feet. John and I climbed easily over an unnamed 8600-foot peak to an 8000-foot-high plateau separating it from Snow White itself. Once we had gained the north ridge of Snow White, the real climbing began. Part of the way we were able to stick to the well-compacted snow ridge but as we approached the summit pyramid it became necessary to move out onto the east face, where steps.and fingernail holds had to be carefully cut for the last two rope-lengths across a 60° ice slope. Finally we stood on the c. 9000-foot summit trying to keep from being blown down the vertical west face to the Eel Glacier far below. We returned to camp and the same day had a fantastic 5-hour 12-mile ski run back to the road. It is believed that both Snow White and the subsidiary peak to the northwest are first ascents.

Douglas Bingham