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North America, Canada, Interior Ranges, The Sergeant, Purcells

The Sergeant, Purcells. The icefalls into the Lake of the Hanging Glaciers are so spectacular and challenging that no one had touched them. Blessed by favorable weather, Arnold Wexler, Morgan Broman and I went up the most easterly of these icefalls in mid August. This is the only one which is continuous from top to bottom, the others terminating in ice cliffs. Our camp was at the nether end of the lake, which necessitated a long hike around the east side. Recent recession has exposed a slabby area beside the lowest icefall, which we used to circumvent the lowest ice, as in the route for Commander Mountain. Then we set out into the glacier, passing through the middle icefall by a ramp arrangement which required little step-cutting, although the severe north exposure guaranteed a frozen condition all day long. Above the ramp a slope led us safely between two morale-chilling fall-lines to what was the crux of the climb. As the slope progressively steepened to about 50°, we had to chop every step for about 1000 feet. In the crevasses near the top, fortunately the angle eased. Here we played the usual game of puzzle-work which makes icefalls such fun and were duly rewarded when we broke into the clear on the Jumbo Névé. We had lunch on an unnamed summit higher than that of the Sergeant. One further snow lead became dismayingly steep before a chance offered itself to escape to the rock. The Sergeant’s summit was attained by way of the northeast slopes, a highly unstable venture.

William L. Putnam