American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Mount Hunter, North Ridge Attempt and North Face

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1980

Mount Hunter, North Buttress Attempt and North Face. Todd Bibler, Doug Klewin and I attempted the north buttress of Mount Hunter in June. After flying in, we started early on June 12 and followed the prominent gully on the left side of the buttress. After a difficult bergschrund crossing and 800 feet of steep snow, we entered the gully proper. The gully was hard water-ice where the lower pitches averaged 50° with 70° bulges and the upper 1000 feet were never less than 70° with 85° sectionsfor as long as 40 feet. After 36 hours of continuous front-pointing, we emerged from the gully. We dug a tent platform on the corniced ridge, the first place big enough to hold two feet side by side since we entered the gully. We got 250 feet higher on thin ice before a broken axe convinced us that once again the north buttress was to remain unclimbed. After waiting out a couple of storms on the glacier, Doug Klewin and I started up the Lowe-Kennedy route on the north face. It took two straightforward days to get beyond the “double-corniced” ridge. To negotiate this, we dropped 50 feet down the west side, traversed 150 feet, regained the crest and dropped 100 feet down the east side and traversed the final 350 feet to the end of the ridge. Getting onto the glacier above the ridge was the crux of the climb: it was 70 feet of nearly vertical snow and ice. We spent the rest of the day working up the final slope in a white-out, the beginning of a major storm, which trapped us at 13,500 feet. Three feet of new snow prevented a summit climb and made the descent of the west ridge dangerous. We triggered several large slab avalanches.

Patrick J. McNerthney, Tech Alpine Society

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