American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Three First Ascents, Cathedral Spires, Kichaatna Mountains

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

Three First Ascents, Cathedral Spires Kichatna Mountains. Scott Flavelle, John Arts and I, all from Vancouver, B.C., spent from June 29 to July 31 in the Cathedral Spires. Although we had the usual bad weather that this area is noted for, we made three first ascents. The first peak is directly north of Steeple Spire, climbed by Black and Bartlett (see their account) and is about 6975 feet. Our route went from the Shadows Glacier east into an obvious cirque with our peak at its head. We ascended via the south col and southwest ridge. It was a mixed snow-and-rock route. It took 16 hours up and down. NCCS F7. Potlatch Peak is the third summit northeast of Mount Gurney on the ridge between Gurney and the Archdeacon Peaks. It is the second summit south of the low point on this ridge. We climbed it via the snow-and-ice face leading to the col south of the summit, then up two mixed pitches to the top. We were directly west of Grendel (see that account). It took us 12 hours. NCCS F7. Our third new peak is a small spire on the ridge between the Citadel and the Secret Passage of Kichatna Spire. From the Shadows Glacier this appears to the west as a small finger on the ridge. We climbed from the cirque just south of the Citadel up a narrow gully to the notch just north of the spire and up two rock pitches to the summit. Flavelle made an excellent F9 move to reach the summit. We rappelled directly to the glacier. Flavelle and I attempted the east face of Kichatna Spire. After three nights on the wall we were forced to descend because of bad weather and diminishing fuel supplies. The attempted route followed face cracks and an obvious corner up the orange pillar to the north of the center of the face. The climbing was mostly artificial (A4) but Flavelle led one fine F9 pitch. We also attempted the northwestern face of Gurney but were turned back by rain and avalanches.

Richard Mitten

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