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North America, Canada, Coast Range, Mount Jacobsen, East Face of East Peak

Mount Jacobsen, East Face of East Peak. On the theory that a six- day trip to the Ape Lake area in the Bella Coola region is better than not going at all, Mickey Schurr and I decided to gamble on a quick strike at what seemed one of the best alpine challenges there. This was the steep rock and ice face of the eastern and higher of the “twin” Jacobsen Peaks, which seem to appear in almost every photo of lovely Ape Lake. After landing by float plane, our immediate move was to pack to a high camp at the rock margin of the glacier near the foot of the face. The route, especially the ice-festooned upper rock pitches, looked slightly frightening. In the morning two hours of steepening névé and ice climbing went well, but we reached the very knife-edged and precipitous arête leading to the final rock wall just as the sun’s heat began to take effect. Taking turns at the tiring leading, we progressed by nearly vertical swimming, packing and re-packing each footstep of granular mush. Only token safety was provided by the snow flukes. The final 1200 feet of rock went well, because we chose what probably was the only suitable route from the ice ridge and had our faith in the probability of a way up the blank sections. The blankest one was about four pitches from the summit ridge, which had key handholds at just the right places. Nearly every pitch had some fifth-class portions, but the climbing never became desperate on rock of fine quality. Thickening cloud darkened the early-evening descent, and by night a short but unpleasant summer storm had arrived.

Fred Beckey