American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Mount Wickersham, Bard Peak and Others, Chugach Range

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

Mount Wickersham, Bard Peak and Others, Chugach Range. It is amazing that Mount Wickersham (7415 feet), located south of the end portion of the Matanuska Glacier, escaped a first ascent until 1969. Possibly it was because of its believed inaccessibility. Serious attempts were made this spring by H. and W. Bludworth but they were driven back by lack of time and avalanche danger. In May F. Cady, H. Bludworth and I tried the Matanuska Glacier route which Vin had recommended. We gave up 100 feet below the summit because of technical difficulties. On our retreat, we were avalanched off and lost equipment. On July 4 I went back for yet another try, solo, again on the Matanuska route. A high valley east of the mountain led me to the base of the east face. I used a short rope and two pitons for protection on the face, but this was more from a desire to get close to some fine plant specimens than from the difficulty on the face per se. (F6). Bard Peak (3850 feet), southwest of Whittier, has been admired by scores of people, winter and summer, but had never been climbed. It shows in most Portage Glacier postcards as a tilted pyramid. (It was mislabeled as Broad Peak in A.A.J., 1969 on Plate 38.) During the winter the frozen lake permits easier access, but several attempts in February were thwarted by weather and short daylight hours. This led me to climb it in August. Cliffs along the south shore of the lake made alternate gain and loss of altitude unavoidable, but after I reached Portage Glacier the route to Bard’s west face, west-northwest ridge and summit was rather clear cut. The only climbing puzzle was presented by a deep earthquake-created gash in the summit ridge, but a steep bypass solved the problem. (The epicenter of the 1964 earthquake was near Portage.) The highpoint of the Thunderbird Creek drainage, Thunderbird Peak (6575 feet) was climbed by L. Kramer and me in May. We reached the southeast ridge from a high valley opening into the upper Eklutna River valley. In the triangle created by the confluence of the Knik and Matanuska rivers there remains much unexplored territory. In May W. Babcock and K. Courtright made the first ascent of P 6201, which lies 7-1/2 miles east of the old Palmer road. At the head of the east fork of the upper Eklutna River lies “Bounty Peak” (6810 feet), which challenged J. Samuelson, C. Pease, A. Allen, N. Lewis, G. Finger, H. Van der Laan and me to a first ascent in September. We used a circuitous route via the Eklutna and Whiteout Glaciers. The west ridge brought us to our target with only minor technical difficulties. Hurdygurdy Mountain (5965 feet) gets its name from its crank-shaped summit ridge. In November A. Allen, N. Lewis and I camped at the head of the lake in Eagle River’s south fork. A direttissima of Hurdygurdy’s south face completed the climb.

Grace Hoeman

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