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Mountaineering Club of Alaska

Mountaineering Club of Alaska. The MCA in 1972 continued its active program of sponsoring and practicing the use of mountaineering skills, both in our “backyard” Chugach Range and in the Talkeetnas, Wrangells, and other challenging Alaskan massifs. The year began with several assaults by members on nearby summits in the northwest Chugach, most of which have yet to be climbed in winter. Short daylight hours and unpredictable snow conditions did their best to insure that the list of winter-climbed Chugach peaks would not be enlarged this year.

Expedition-oriented members participated in a winter attempt on 13,176-foot Mount Marcus Baker, highest of the Chugach, but were stalled at Base Camp by freakish winds and a downed aircraft. Another MCA expedition launched the first winter attempt of Mount Foraker, but was turned back at 13,600 feet by massive cornices and a shortage of fixed rope, returning to civilization after 19 cold and windy days on the peak. A summer attempt on Mount McKinley was thwarted by the weather at 17,200 feet, but a measure of light relief was gained by their grandstand view of the antics of French ski ace Sylvain Saudan, and, upon their descent, of the collection of considerable booty discarded by the French entourage. MCA members also tackled Mount Drum in the Wrangells, recording the third ascent of that 12,010-foot peak.

The MCA again organized its popular series of climbing schools, with its winter-skills school in January and its extended rock and ice school in late summer, instructing approximately 25 beginning mountaineers in each school. The club’s stake in the environment was examined in detail, and extensive testimony was presented by the club and by individual members at public hearings on Chugach State Park and the proposed Kenai Moose Range Wilderness. The major non-climbing event of the year was the long-awaited release of 55 Ways to the Wilderness in South-central Alaska, authored by MCA members and published by the club in conjunction with the Mountaineers of Seattle. This briskly-selling 160-page volume expands and replaces the popular 30 Hikes in Alaska, published by the same groups in 1967 but long since out of print.

Tom Meacham, President