AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

North America, United States, Alaska, Mount Deborah, Alaska Range, Attempt on Northwest Ridge

Mount Deborah, Alaska Range, Attempt on Northwest Ridge. Floyd Frank, Joe Smyth and I hoped to climb the narrow, ¾-mile-long, corniced ridge which extends northwest from Mount Deborah (12,339 feet), gaining access by a north ridge which joins it at 11,000 feet. Leaving an airstrip on Portage Creek some 20 miles north of Deborah on June 15, we spent three days reaching Base Camp (5000 feet) at the head of Gillam Glacier. Our route continued through a series of ice- falls directly south of Base Camp. A second camp was above the worst of the icefalls at 7200 feet on a small plateau walled on two sides by ominous black cliffs topped by overhanging ice walls, which several times dropped large ice chunks; we spent as little time as possible here. In two days we brought loads up from Base Camp and then moved west to camp in a small col at 9500 feet between the north ridge and a 9730-foot peak. Because of cornices and highly fractured rock, it took nearly eight hours to cover the first 800 feet of the north ridge to nearly 10,000 feet. We put in sparingly 600 feet of fixed line out of our meager 1000-foot supply. (We should have brought 3000 feet.) A four-day snowstorm tied us down. On June 30 our schedule and food supply forced us back to Base Camp and to Portage Creek where our Tanana Air Taxi plane met us on July 5.