Robert Gerhard, Ranger, Mount McKinley National Park
Mount Foraker, Sultana Ridge. Roger Cowles, Brian Okonek and I made the second winter ascent of Foraker on March 15 by a route which had been unsuccessfully tried eight times. Eight-and-a-half miles long, it begins only four miles from Kahiltna International, climbs the southeast ridge of 12,800-foot Mount Crosson, traverses P 12,472, then undulates south to Foraker, gaining 14,072 feet and losing 3672 feet in all. From where the northeast ridge begins on Foraker itself, it rises at 35° to 40° for 5750 feet. These final slopes have been climbed at least twice by the Japanese, the top part of their hari-kiri route from the Kahiltna. Every part of the route had been climbed; it just hadn’t been done all together. Views of Denali, Hunter and down to the spruce and cottonwood at the ends of the Foraker and Straightaway Glaciers are superb. The route is technically easy, but exposed to any weather that comes along. Take extra food, fuel and books; most attempts run out and rescues have had to be made. We named the ridge “Sultana” to preserve the Tanana name for the peak. Previous experience taught us well. We carried three shovels and no tent, digging caves at 11,000, 11,250, and 12,300 feet. We utilized nearly all climbable weather: seven full and four half-days out of 22. The route can be avalanche-prone in summer.