American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Alfred Adolphe Couttet, Armand Charlet, Georges Tairraz

  • In Memoriam
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1976

Tombstone Range. Lured by a note in the Canadian Alpine Journal promising “Bugaboo-style granite,” at least two parties visited the Tombstone Range, thirty miles north of Dawson in the central Yukon, in the summer of 1975. In early June Mark Fagan, Jon Krakauer, and I doublepacked three weeks’ supplies to the head of the Klondike River from the Dempster Highway on skis. We were disappointed to find very bad rock everywhere and a dearth of natural lines on the impressive-looking peaks. Krakauer and I failed on the 1000-foot east face of “Little Tombstone” only about thirty feet below the top when the cracks we were climbing with aid petered out. Krakauer took a 45-foot leader fall with no protection above a hanging-belay anchor when a hold broke as he was attempting to free-climb the last moves. With Fagan, Krakauer and I later made an easy first ascent. In the middle of June a party of six (Bob Cuthbert, Eric White, Robin Mounsey, Fred Thiessen, Alan Denis, and Neil Humphries) helicoptered in to the upper Chandindu valley. They, too, were greatly disappointed with the slabs of “Graham-cracker rock,” loose flakes, and poor lines. During three days of bad weather, Denis and Mounsey managed to get up a difficult rib on the north face of the eastern satellite of Tombstone Mountain. After nasty bivouacs and some A4 nailing, they had a miserable descent in a rain storm. Later the party did a 1500-foot wide mixed route on the peak just north of Monolith Peak, as well as other first ascents in the range. Monolith itself, apparently still unclimbed, is the prize of the range.

David Roberts

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