American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Moose's Tooth, East Face Attempt

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1976

Moose’s Tooth, East Face Attempt. In early June Lou Dawson, Tom Merrill, Bob Sullivan and I made an attempt on the east face of the Moose’s Tooth. Cliff Hudson flew us to the Buckskin Glacier a half-mile from the base of the climb. Sullivan and I fixed ropes over the bergschrund and on the first pitch that same day. The weather soon closed in. On the third day it cleared and we started up, climbing 900 feet in 20 hours. By far, the hardest task was the hauling of our twelve days of food and bivouac gear. Both while climbing and in bivouacs, all of us were hit by falling ice and rocks knocked off by the leaders. Merrill decided the climb was too dangerous and started down. We made 300 feet on the second day and bivouacked below the arches that bar access to the large ledges 1700 feet up, the high point of two previous attempts. The weather then deteriorated. The next three pitches were the hardest, with several short pendulums, A4 nailing and a long tension traverse. Dawson reported that he was only 200 feet of easy climbing below large ledges at 1700 feet. Sullivan was halfway up the pitch, cleaning on Jümars, and I was still at the bivouac when a huge avalanche swept down, repeatedly hitting me with basketball-sized chunks of ice; our attempt was over. The slide missed the other two, except for bouncing pieces. Ice ripped through a bivouac tent, a sleeping bag and a hammock, broke stays in my pack and pulled one of the belay bolts (a ?-inch self-drive) half out. We beat a hasty and disappointed retreat.

Michael Kennedy, Elk Mountain Climbing Club

This AAJ article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.