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North America, United States, Alaska, Mount Dall and Peak 7102, Alaska Range

Mount Dall and Peak 7102, Alaska Range. After three days of rainy weather obscuring the mountains, we stuffed our gear into Bob Smith’s station wagon and drove to Talkeetna to find the weather clear over the Alaska Range. On July 24, Cliff Hudson landed our group of six climbers at 5500 feet on the northeast glacier of Mount Dall (8756 feet), one of the last named, unclimbed peaks in the Alaska Range. The next morning was cloudy, but we decided at least to start the route on the southeast ridge. As we climbed, the weather improved, so we put on crampons and Charles “Scooter” Hildebolt led the first rope of Art Ward and me up a steep snow face below the ridge. We were carrying about 25 pounds of technical rock equipment which we intended to use on the ridge route. When we reached the rock, we found a crumbling conglomerate that would never hold a piton; “Portable handholds,” Art mused. The only choice was the partially snow-covered east face. Scooter led across the ridge and onto the face. About 1000 feet higher we were below a short ice gully and just at the upper ceiling of the clouds. Scooter led up the gully and then belayed the rest. Scrambling out of the gully on front points, we had climbed above the clouds and could now look across the Alaska Range at Russell, Foraker, and McKinley. Art led the next 1000 feet, putting us in a snow notch about 75 feet below the summit. Reaching the summit required traversing three knife ridges separated by two gendarmes. The east ridge fell over 2000 feet and the west ridge almost 4000 feet to glaciers below. Belayed from the gendarmes, Art gingerly balanced his way across the ridges and onto the summit at 1:30 P.M. The rest of our rope took individual turns standing on the small snow summit, then returned to the notch to allow the second rope (John Bridge, Wendell Oderkirk, Bob Smith) the pleasure of the ridge traverse and summit view. The weather cleared completely, and we waited at the notch for shadows to cover the east face and diminish avalanche danger. Using ice pickets, we fixed 600 feet of polypropylene and 540 feet of climbing rope and rappelled to just below the ice gully, pulling the rope after us through a pulley. Two more pickets were placed in shallow, rotten snow for another 1000 feet of hand lines. We were back in camp by ten P.M., hovering over our cooking stoves. During the nights of the next three days (it was never dark), an ascent was made of Peak 7102, bordering the northeast glacier of Dall. Typical of the 1970 Alaska summer, the clear weather was short-lived, and the next six days were spent in a persistent snow storm. Bob and Wendell stayed in the new Bishop tent, but the rest retreated to the cool comfort of a large, two-vaulted snow cave. Cliff Hudson arrived six days later to fly us out to Talkeetna.

PATRICK C. Freeney, M. D., Mountaineering Club of Alaska