American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Romanzof Mountains, Brooks Range

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

Romanzof Mountains, Brooks Range. During three weeks of June, Geoff Radford and I climbed around the Okpilak River drainage in the eastern Brooks Range. The area is of interest as it contains the highest and most heavily glaciated peaks of the Brooks Range. In addition, we were attracted by a large intrusion of granite in the predominately sedimentary landscape, which had not been fully explored for climbing possibilities. From a glacier camp about two miles southeast of Mount Michelson, we climbed Michelson (8855 feet) and Tugak Peak (8500+ feet), and made first ascents of three prominent rock pinnacles south of camp (8300+, 7900+, and 7900+ feet). These are all granite and offer enjoyable fourth-and mid-fifth-class rock routes; we saw no extended faces comparable to the granite of the Arrigetch. Access to the ridges often involved steep ice gullies. We then moved further south to the sedimentary peaks near the headwaters of the Okpilak, making a first ascent of Peak 8760 and the second ascent of Mount Isto (9050 feet), the highest peak in the Brooks Range. This had first been climbed by Post, Mason, and Keeler in 1958. Our last climb was back on the granite of Mount Hubley (8915 feet), climbed in near white-out conditions via the Bravo Glacier, from a camp on the Okpilak River. The next week was spent hiking north amid caribou, wolves, fox, and plentiful birdlife, to an airfield on the Arctic Ocean. Our timing was rewarded by a total absence of mosquitos throughout the trip.

Gordon Benner

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