American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Mount Hunter, Attempt on South Face

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1970

Mount Hunter, Attempt on South Face. (The author of this note was a recipient of a grant from the American Alpine Club’s Boyd N. Everett Jr. Climbing Fellowship Fund. — Editor.) Bill St. Lawrence, another companion and I attempted the south face of Mount Hunter. We reached approximately the same point as Biven and Smythe in 1968 (A.A.J., 1969, 16:2, p. 372). Our snow conditions were very similar. We had considerable danger from slough avalanches in the icefall that bars the cirque of the South Peak from the main Tokositna Glacier. The upper icefall (before one reaches the “airdrop col” at the foot of the south face) was more stable. Although forced to climb through an avalanche track in the upper icefall, we felt the main objective danger was the softening snow and ice in the lower icefall. During the 2-1/2 weeks (mid-June to early July) that we were on the mountain, the sound of falling water replaced the frozen silence. I agree with Biven and Smythe that the climb should be attempted early in the season. Warm air masses moved northward from the plain and butted against Hunter. We had low clouds or haze almost continually. Storms brought rain, not snow. St. Lawrence had talked to Biven and Smythe in Talkeetna in 1968. On their advice we came prepared to climb the rock on the right of the face above the col and had nearly 60 rock pitons for pitches of direct aid. But our hurriedly added third man prevented further climbing above the col by refusing to continue or to wait for Bill and me. And so we had to return to Base Camp. Softening snow convinced us two not to go back up.

Dean Rau, Harvard Mountaineering Club

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