American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Gurney Peak and P 8520, Kichatna Mountains

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1973

Gurney Peak and P 8520, Kichatna Mountains. (See USGS map, Talkeetna B6). The north buttress can be seen from the “Glacier of the Shadows” (so named by the Roberts Party, A.A.J., 1967) which runs directly north from the summit of Gurney. The buttress is divided from the peak by a high hanging glacier. This second glacier falls over steep ice slopes and eventually joins a third glacier which lies along the whole western side of the mountain. Don Fredrickson’s and my route of August 1 ascends from the “Glacier of the Shadows” over the steep icefall of this third glacier and joins the rocky north buttress at a point 100 feet above a bergschrund. Third-class climbing up and to the east of the ridge ends at the base of a difficult, icy, 300-foot chimney, best entered after a short rappel and then up and to the east (left). The chimney leads onto the hanging glacier at the top of the north buttress, which is followed straight up to the base of another chimney on the left. Two shoulder stands to gain entrance and some 500 feet of difficult climbing on snow, ice and bad rock lead to the summit ridge. The route required 15 hours on the ascent, a bivouac at the summit, and 8 hours to descend the same route as the previous day. P 8520 lies 1¾ miles north-northwest of Gurney Peak. Its east face, overlooking the “Glacier of the Shadows” is an impressive array of towers and gullies. From Base Camp on that glacier, the mountain appeared to be a moderate climb up to the summit via the ice and snow on the north slope. From camp, on August 3, Don Fredrickson, Ludwig Ferche and I ascended the icy tongue north of that peak to gain entrance to a smaller glacier which lies on the western side of the peak. A snow couloir requiring 3rd- and 4th-class climbing ends at the north arête, which joins the snow slope visible from our camp. Near its top, snow turned to ice and we exited to the rock ridge on the right (west), around a difficult corner and up 250 feet on ice and decomposed rock to the top of the ridge. Some 500 feet of scrambling brought us to the base of a 300-foot 4th-class slope leading to the summit. Our route required 12 hours up, a bivouac at the summit, and a 10-hour descent over the same route.

William Katra, Unaffiliated

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