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North America, United States, Alaska, Juneau Icefields

Juneau Icefields. Our group of four spent from July 8 to August 1 on the Juneau Icefields, landing with Ken Loken on an unnamed lake on the British Columbia flank (above Tulsequah Lake) and made the combination hike and cross-country-ski trek out to Twin Glacier Lake. Craig Zaspell, Doug McCarty, Jack Tackle, and I climbed the south peak of Devil’s Paw via the long south couloir the night of July 23–24, but were frustrated by very loose rock on the south face of Michael’s Sword. The new route on the “Paw” was exhilarating, and a challenge with snow conditions and the deep avalanche runnels on the steep couloir. Our timing was good, for we had to bivouac for only two hours before we could move on to do the summit pitches of the south peak (previously unclimbed); a route to the middle peak from here did not look inviting, particularly with fresh snow. We managed to get off the mountain before the sun struck the couloir again. On July 28 we made the first ascents of two granitic peaks on Antler Ridge, a lovely ridge of striking towers surrounded by the ice of Twin Glaciers. The worst part of the trip was getting back to the sea-level lake, fighting the heat, brush, and mosquitoes. While hungrily waiting for the float-plane pickup (during the best weather of the summer) we reflected on the great lake formed once in upper Taku Inlet by the Norris Glacier—called by the coast Indians Tah-wakh-tha-ku, or “where the geese sit down.” This name is now shortened to Ta-ku.

Fred Beckey