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North America, United States, Alaska, Fairweather Range

Fairweather Range. On July 5, 1977 Allen Beattie, Duke Greshook, Greg Wagner and I were flown to the lake at the foot of the Grand Plateau Glacier. Following the route of the Gove parties of 1974 and 1977, we hiked the 25 miles to our airdrop at 10,000 feet, somewhat to the north of Mount Fairweather. After our arrival at Base Camp, we attempted Fairweather heading up the valley between the main summit and the west summit aiming for the saddle between the peaks. We turned back due to crevasses, falling ice coming from the ice cliffs of the main summit and serious avalanche hazards. The next day we again headed up the valley, but this time stayed to the right. We worked our way up the icefall, passed under the ice cliffs of the west summit and reached the bowl under the steep crevassed slope leading to the saddle between the summits. We ascended the slope to the saddle, left gear for a possible high camp, and headed up the last 2000 feet of the west ridge to the summit which we reached at approximately 8:30 P.M. on the 20th. From the summit we descended all the way to Base Camp which we finally reached after 44 hours of climbing. On the descent Allen fell into a major crevasse in the bowl just under the headwall. In the following period Allen and I climbed a small peak (P 10,010), which we labeled the “nob,” that lies at the base of the north ridge of the west summit of Fairweather. The climb, which went up the north face, involved three excellent pitches on ice. We also climbed the southeast ridge of P 11,105, “The Guardian,” following the route done by Don and Alice Liska in 1974. The snow and ice conditions were poor and we spent 11 hours on the ridge. Our most alpine climb was the steep 3000-foot south face of Root, which was climbed by Allen and Greg in 33 hours, Allen leading the entire way. The route, which was all ice, was generally similar to that of the first ascent, done a month and a half earlier, except that where the original route veered slightly to the right on the upper part of the mountain Allen and Greg followed a straight line to the summit. Shortly after the climb of Root, Duke dislocated his shoulder in a freak accident at Base Camp. The next day we packed up and headed out. During our stay the melting snow had left the ice bare up to 4000 feet and the exposed crevasse system greatly complicated the descent, which took six days. We were flown out on August 19.

Barbara Wight, Unaffiliated