North America, United States, Alaska, Mount Deborah, West Face and South Ridge

Publication Year: 1980.

Mount Deborah, West Face and South Ridge. In May John Ellsworth, Chris Topher and I were landed at 6000 feet on the Yanert Glacier. Two days later we had established a direct route through the first and second icefalls, the upper maze of crevasses and across the bergschrund below the west face. Conditions had been excellent, but because of the lateness of the hour, cold feet and a lack of agreement on the route, we descended to Base Camp. After waiting out a threatened storm, Topher and I returned and made a frigid bivouac below the bergschrund. In the morning, conditions on the west face proved exciting and exacting. Hollow, reverberating snow gave way to dry, loose snow over ice and then to loose blocks of the rock band. Departing from ourintended line, which would have placed us next to the summit on the northwest ridge, we moved slightly right, gaining the south ridge (Beckey’s route) below the summit ice mushroom for a second cold bivouac. I then led through a beautiful ice fantasia, occasionally stepping into crevasses on the dangerous ridge. Slab avalanches fractured at my feet, forcing me dangerously out towards the lip of the cornices. On the descent we opted for the most direct line, setting up six successive rappels down the Yanert Headwall. After finding a route through the third Yanert icefall, we regained our first bivouac site and continued on down. A massive snow-bridge collapsed under Topher, dropping him 60 feet free. After an eternity of “engineering” in the cold night, Chris finally came over the lip. We spent the next day descending the lower two icefalls.

Omar Hansen