American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Mount Hajdukovich, Delta Mountains, Alaska Range

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1971

Mount Hajdukovich, Delta Mountains, Alaska Range. On March 18 we drove from Fairbanks to Mile 1388 on the Alaska Highway and lurched five miles further to our first camp at the end of an old 4-wheel-drive road along the east bank of the Little Gerstle River. Besides Guy Tarnstrom who organized and led the effort, we were Sid Whaley, Don Willis, my wife Ellen and I. The next two days of cramponing up blue river ice, fighting dense willow with skis and boulder climbing over moraines brought us 16 miles up the Little Gerstle River and onto the glacier which flows northeast from Hajdukovich. Had we taken the central channel where the river enters the wider north-trending valley, we would have avoided bushwhacking. Camp was a half-mile up from the terminus of the glacier at 5600 feet. Despite clouds, on March 21 we got up at five o’clock and Whaley, Wallis and I roped up and set off on crampons by 7:15. Ellen and Guy Tarnstrom remained in camp to cool blisters. The route up the glacier to Hajdukovich was straight-forward, passing to the left of the prominent nunatak. Since the snow cover was very light even high on the glacier, the few crevasses were no problem. We trudged up between the ridges running northwest from the twin 9600-foot summits while the weather gradually improved until we were in pale sunshine. We headed toward the easier, more easterly summit as we were suffering from cold feet and smoker’s fatigue. Alas, when we finally stood on top at 11:15, we found the other summit, a half-mile to the southwest was 30 to 50 feet higher. The temperature stood at 3° F. Leaving the other summit for future parties, we dropped back to camp in a couple of hours, gathered the rest and headed down the river on crampons. A day and a half of ski-skating and cramponing brought us back to the Land Rover for the long drive to Fairbanks.

Douglas K. Bingham

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