American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Mount Lituya

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

Mount Lituya. After many a rainy night in Juneau, Larry McGee of Channel Flying landed our trio at Cape Fairweather on a glacial lake above the beach. My wife Diana is quite feminine, Jim Nelson young and thin and I overweight and so our pilot was a bit skeptical when we told him to pick us up after three weeks. Five days later we were at the base of the north ridge of Mount Lituya, 6000 feet below the summit, exhausted and sunburned. The next day, July 10, was a rest day with beautiful weather. Friends had told us that if we moved fast we should do the whole ridge and descend in a day. They also told us that snow flukes would be good and ice screws useless, and so, going light, we had three flukes and one screw. We carried everything from the beach in a single push, over 25 miles. After another rest day, forced on us by bad weather, we started up the ridge; candy in our pockets, terrordactyls on our hips and down parkas in two packs. We also had two freeze-dried dinners and a stove, “just in case.” My diary says: “Hairy—steep ice, no belays. Jim does a good job step-kicking. Bivy in a whiteout in ‘Ice Palace Schrund’ near the top of the ridge. Cold! Day 2: Cloudy morning. Lead off on 50° ice. No belays with only one ice screw. Company policy: nobody falls. Many leads to the summit. Off route on the way down and back to the summit. Down the south ridge with double cornices and much exposure. Last pitch on south ridge spectacular over ice mushrooms. Another bivy above the icefall at two A.M. Whiteout. Day 3: Up at 5:45; cloudy. Down icefall and back to camp.”

David Dailey, Unaffiliated

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