North America, United States, Alaska, Bonna and Tressider

Publication Year: 1970.

Bona and Tressider. Our party included several from the Mount Logan Project: Tom Lyman, Jenny Cook, A.J. LaFleur and me. Coming from the East to join us were Stu and Gail Ashley, Rick Wilcox, Fred Bragdon, Jeff Black, Howard and Sue Stidham and Steve Rosenberg. We had weather problems and it was not until August 20 that we could all be flown to the Klutlan Glacier, east of Mount Bona. We spent the rest of the day looking over the routes we had previously outlined on aerial photos. We awoke next morning to a total whiteout with snow, but we started for Bona anyway, since we now had the route well in mind and could follow it even in poor visibility. About a mile out Jenny Cook’s knee forced her to quit; Tom Lyman stayed back with her. The rest of the ascent to our high camp at 14,300 feet was mainly a problem of route finding through intersecting crevasse systems in the whiteout, with almost continual snowfall, which never let up for three days. On August 24 we left Camp III with light packs and headed upward, still in total whiteout. Shortly we reached a minor summit. Luckily as we stood there, the weather broke slightly, and the summits of Bona and Churchill emerged; we were atop a knob between the two, just under 15,000 feet. LaFleur, Wilcox, Bragdon, Rosenberg, Gail Ashley and I headed for the 16,420-foot summit of Bona as the weather closed in again. The rest of the ascent, the seventh, though easy, was made blind, with only fleeting moments when we could see a hundred yards or so. Stu Ashley and Sue Stidham, who had headed for Churchill from the knob, made the south summit of that peak, about 15,300 feet, and decided against going on in the bad weather and at the late hour. We all got back to Base Camp the next afternoon in gorgeous weather. Next day we slept late before some of us snowshoed to Klutlan Col, between Mounts Bona and Tressider, an unclimbed 13,315-foot peak to the east, named by the 1951 Bona expedition. The west ridge of Tressider looked feasible and interesting. On the way to the col we had also seen a route on the northeast face, which appeared easier than the ridge. We decided on a simultaneous ascent by these two routes on the morrow. A.J. LaFleur, Rick Wilcox and I set out ahead for the west ridge, while Tom Lyman, Sue Stidham, Stu Ashley, Jenny Cook, Fred Bragdon and Steve Rosenberg would try the northeast face. When we three were directly below the face, several thousand tons of ice avalanched from its upper part and fell 3000 feet straight at us. A.J., who was first in line, ran out from the face, across the glacier. I ran back along our snowshoe track toward Rick, who was far enough back to be safe. It was a close one! We outran the blocks but the wind, choked with ice crystals, covered us with snow. Half an hour later, we were in Klutlan Col. Because of the difficult ice on the west ridge we should have to climb slowly, Rick, in single-layer boots, decided against chancing frostbite and returned to camp. A.J. and I continued up the ridge with ice between 60° and 85° and snow up to 75°. The weather remained perfect throughout the day. We reached the summit at eight P.M. The northeast-face party had already reached the top; we descended by their fine route.

Joseph C. LaBelle

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