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North America, United States, Alaska, The Tusk, Juneau Icefields

The Tusk, Juneau Icefields. Because of a time limit, our mini-expedition to the northwestern portion of the Icefields was hurried by helicopter to the upper Taku Glacier. Our objective was unclimbed Tusk (c. 6700 feet), which actually towers atop an isolated north-trending ridge which flanks the Battle Glacier: not only a climbing problem, but a possible approach nightmare. Several of Austin Post’s aerials gave it the resemblance of Bugaboo Spire’s north side, only in a more glacierized region. On August 2, just as the weather was closing down, John Rupley, Dave Beckstead, Ray Ketcham and I made the climb, with Illa Rupley hosting our camp. Fortunately a long glacier traverse, then steep névé on the west flank provided a narrow route to the north corner. Here two class-5 pitches brought us to a summit ridge, long but simple. After being pinned in the tents 6 days, Rupley and Beckstead made some climbs on the Snow Towers, to our south, while Ketcham and I skied to Maynard Miller’s J.I.R.P. Camp Ten. Here we were treated to gracious alpine hospitality before departing from this magnificent “land of the spirits.”

Fred Beckey