American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, St. Elias, East Ridge Attempt

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1972

St. Elias, East Ridge Attempt. On June 2, 1970, Loren Adkins, Gary Ullin, John Neal and I left Yakutat for an attempt on the east ridge of St. Elias. We flew to an abandoned airstrip at 500 feet on the west side of the mountain and from there walked up the Malaspina, Agassiz and Newton Glaciers to the foot of the east ridge, where we set up Base Camp at about 9000 feet. The lower part of the Newton was badly broken, and it was obvious that by the time we were to walk out, it would have deteriorated so badly it would have been next to impassable. When later, on a radio check, we found that a helicopter would be in Yakutat area for a few days, we arranged to be flown out on it even though it severely limited our time for climbing. We reached 14,000 feet but were unable to push to the top due to lack of time and bad weather. We were flown out on June 26. The crux of the climb appears to be an extremely sharp corniced knife-edged ridge composed of rotten, hollow snow at around 11,000 feet. With aid of 24 anchors and 1900 feet of fixed rope, we eventually made that section moderately secure.


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