American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Canada, Yukon Territory, King Peak, South Ridge

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

King Peak, South Ridge. King Peak (16,971 feet) was first climbed in 1952 by Elton Thayer’s party, which traversed the north slope from King Col and finished up the west ridge. The east and entire west ridges have also been climbed. In 1968 Akira Soda (often pronounced “Aida” but called “Soda” by himself) and Hisao Nakadai reconnoitered the south ridge to 11,800 feet as advance party of the main expedition which the Renrei Alpine Club expected to send in 1970. In 1969 there were two parties with this goal, but one turned to Mount Wood. I can understand the disappointment of the Renrei Alpine Club, which had sent the advance party there. I do not like to say more about this matter. The Nichidai Mishima High School Alpine Club expedition was led by Takanori Okubo and had also Kinji Okumura and Tetsuji Oda. They were flown from Whitehorse to the Quintino Sella Glacier at 8850 feet on May 15. On the 16th they started relaying loads up the southwest spur of the south ridge. The first rock pinnacle was impossible on either side. They did not trust the fixed ropes of the previous party and fixed 650 feet of their own in the whole area of the rock pinnacles. After several days of storm, they placed an intermediate camp below the rock pinnacle on May 23. Using pulleys on each pinnacle, they carried loads to the end of the rock ridge on May 24 to 26. Above the snow junction (12,500 feet), they fixed 1000 feet of line in the seven pitches of slopes up to 60°. They established their high camp on May 29 on the snow platform behind a snow pinnacle. On June 1 they climbed the sharp ridge, corniced on the west, heading along the snow ridge, snow wall and rock ridge towards the south peak (15,400 feet). A great couloir falls abruptly from near the top, filled with black ice. From its 350-foot-wide base it narrows two-thirds of the way up to 35 feet and widens again. After nine hours of climbing they reached a terrace above the narrowest point. They fixed 1000 feet of rope. Bad weather held them up until June 5, when they started for the top at two a.m. After entering the couloir, they found the hard ice troublesome. They reached the rock terrace at 7:30 and the top of the couloir at 8:50. From there they climbed to the top of the south peak. A very thin snow ridge led down to the col. It was delicate climbing, complicated with snow mushrooms, but at last they stood on the col at 14,425 feet at four p.m. A crevasse in the side wall made their bivouac site. They left again at 8:40 on June 6. They climbed a steep snow ridge with their crampons biting well. Above waited a 1200-foot overbearing rock and snow wall. They finally joined the east ridge, where they found a fixed line, apparently left by the Americans in 1966. Eventually at 3:25 they stood on top. They reached the bivouac spot at 6:25, where they spent 24 hours in a blizzard. Leaving at seven p.m. of June 7, they were on the south peak at 9:30. Four pitches in the couloir led to the highest fixed rope, which they descended for seven pitches. They crossed the rock ridge and descended the snow wall in three pitches and stood at the foot of the south peak. They continued down the snow ridge to the high camp, which was reached at two a.m. on June 8. Base Camp was reached on the 9th. After a long stay they were evacuated by helicopter on July 3.

Ichiro Yoshizawz, Japanese Alpine Club and A.A.C.

This AAJ article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.