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North America, United States, Alaska, Mount Skarland, Hayes Group, Alaska Range

Mount Skarland, Hayes Group, Alaska Range. Early in April, Ed Johann, Terry Simonitch, Price Zimmermann and I were flown onto the upper portion of the Hayes Glacier from Delta Junction. Our pilot, Mike Stone of Wilson Air Service, did an excellent job, requiring only three trips to transport our party along with five weeks’ food and equipment to our Base Camp at 6800 feet. Our objective was Mount Hayes by way of the west ridge, and the nature of the route, as well as the terrain surrounding Base Camp, dictated an early attempt. The first few days were spent in organizing Base Camp and establishing a route up through the cirque formed by the west ridge and the west face of Hayes toward our proposed Camp I at 9500 feet. Further progress in establishing Camp I was prevented by an unseasonable storm of such severity that both Base Camp tents were destroyed in winds in excess of 90 knots. As is typical with Alaskan weather, it was not until ten days later that we were able to dig ourselves out. Unsettled conditions prevented the immediate continuation of the route, and our attention turned to Mount Skarland (10,315 feet), 5½ miles northwest of Mount Hayes. The peak, named after Doctor Ivar Skarland of the University of Alaska, appeared to be an easy one-day climb and a means of regaining our physical condition. Our approach was via the western arm of the Hayes Glacier and thence climbing northward, gaining the northeast ridge at about 9500 feet. The final ridge to the summit provided us with an excellent view of Hess and Deborah to the west. Late the afternoon of April 19 found all four of us on the summit, where a new storm system was visible to the west. The next several days were again spent storm-bound in Base Camp. On April 23, a temporary break in the weather enabled us to fly out. Our decision to do so was aided by the forecast of further storms in the Gulf of Alaska.

Theodore Nicolai