American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Devils Thumb, Mount Burkett, Northeast Ridge and Other Peaks, Stikine Icefield

  • Climbs And Expeditions
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  • Publication Year: 1980

Devils Thumb, Mount Burkett, Northeast Ridge and Other Peaks, Stikine Icefield. Dave Dahl, Bruce Tickell, Bill Zaumann and I spent three-and-a-half days in early July snow-shoeing up the Baird Glacier system from Thomas Bay to a previously placed airdrop immediately southeast of the Devils Thumb. We bypassed the icefall which caused Krakauer trouble (A.A.J., 1977, p. 403) by the slope to its north. During two days of marginal weather following our arrival at the airdrop site Dahl and I climbed the northeast ridge of P 7700 one mile southeast of the Thumb (first ascent by Donaldson’s party, A.A.J., 1972, p. 113). On the 16th our first attempt on the Thumb was stopped by a violent storm at 8400 feet. High winds, rain and/or snow lasted almost continually until the morning of the 23rd. On the following day all 4 of us repeated Beckey’s original route on the southeast face and east ridge of the Thumb. We bivouacked high on the southeast face on the descent. Climbing from a base camp at 4000 feet on the Baird Glacier on the 27th Tickell and I made the second ascent of Mount Burkett (9730 feet) by a new route up the northeast ridge (the facing ridge in plate 54, A.A.J., 1965). The lower, highly corniced section of the ridge involved a thin layer of steep loose snow atop ice and a short section of easy fifth-class rock. Near the summit these conditions gave way to mixed ice and frost-shattered F6 flakes and slabs. We reached the summit at nine P.M. and bivouacked near the base of the ridge. While Tickell and I were on Mount Burkett, Dahl and Zaumann made the first ascent of a 5400-foot peak on the south side of the Baird Glacier. The return to Thomas Bay and Petersburg was uneventful.

Walter Vennum

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