American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Mount Foraker, Southwest Ridge and Mount McKinley, Cassin Ridge

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1979

Mount Foraker, Southeast Ridge and Mount McKinley, Cassin Ridge. On May 28 my brother Don Frederickson, Todd Bibler, Tom Ormond and I left the Kahiltna Glacier for the southeast ridge of Mount Foraker with supplies for a week. We set up Camp I at 8500 feet on top of the “Toe.” The next day we moved up in a snow storm to place Camp II at 11,000 feet at the foot of the bergschrund/crevasse that cuts across the slope 300 feet below the ridge crest. The next two days we were occupied with a body recovery operation resulting from a slab avalanche accident suffered by a five-person Japanese party. They lost two members when the avalanche carried them over the ice cliff a short distance from our camp. We left Camp II on June 1 in marginal weather, climbed straight up to the ridge crest and followed it upward. (The Japanese had traversed left after surmounting the ice cliff to avoid crossing a small horizontal crevasse and thereby cut and triggered the windslab avalanche.) Shortly above the crevasse the slope turned to ice and became safe. We soon broke into clear weather and continued to the top of the steep icy step at 13,000 feet that marks the corniced ridge section. We set up Camp III in a schrund on the west of the ridge. We reached the summit at 4:30 P.M. on June 2 in cold, windy conditions after 9½ hours of climbing. After a storm we set off for the Cassin Ridge. Three short days brought us to the foot of the Japanese couloir on June 8. The next morning brought us the first of four perfect climbing days, clear and windless. We utilized the standard camps at 14,200, 15,900 and 17,300 feet before reaching the summit at 5:30 P.M. on June 12. We descended the West Buttress. The lower part of the Cassin Ridge has become festooned with fixed ropes left from past ascents. Twelve separate ropes are at one point in the Japanese couloir.

Gary Frederickson, Summit Alpine Club

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