Mount Fairweather, The First Ten Ascents

Publication Year: 1981.

Mount Fairweather, The First Ten Ascents

Bradford Washburn


Alaska’s most beautiful peaks. Rising to an altitude of 15,300 feet, yet only 16 miles from the beaches of the Gulf of Alaska, it is one of the world’s highest coastal mountains. Although it was discovered and named Mont Beautemps by the French explorer La Pérouse in 1786, its ascent was not attempted until 1926 when a small party led by Allen Carpé and Dr. William S. Ladd landed at Sea Otter Bight and attained an altitude of slightly over 9000 feet on its great western ridge. After another unsuccessful attempt by a variant of the same route by our Harvard party in 1930, Carpé and Terris Moore made the first ascent on June 8, 1931 by the westernmost of Fairweather’s southern spurs after a bitter and lengthy struggle with the evil weather that plagues this part of the Alaskan coast.

Mount Fairweather has now been climbed ten times by six different routes—all of which have been recorded in this Journal. However, during the last three years I have made two photographic flights around the peak in perfect weather, in a specially-equipped Learjet aircraft, and for the first time we now have a wide variety of pictures of all sides of this superb peak. It is hoped that the statistics and references listed below will be of interest to A.A.J. readers. The pictures which are shown on the pages which follow exactly detail the routes used in the first ten ascents of the mountain (1931-1979)—and may possibly be the origin of some stimulating ideas for those who are looking for new and challenging opportunities on this magnificent peak.

The First Ten Ascents of Mount Fairweather, Alaska

1. South Ridge (First ascent). June 8, 1931 by Allen Carpé and Terris Moore. (A.A.J., 1932, pp. 429-444).

2. Carpé Ridge (Second ascent). June 26 and 27, 1958. Canadian party: Paul Binkert, Fips Broda, Joe Hutton, Walter Romanes (June 26); and Paddy Sherman (leader), David Blair, Dennis Moore, and Russell Yard (June 27). (A.A.J., 1959, pp. 297-298).

3. West Ridge (“1926 attempt route”) (First ascent). July 12, 1968 by Walter Gove, Loren Adkins, Paul Meyhre, John Neal and Kent Stokes. (A.A.J., 1969, pp. 304-307).

4. East Ridge Traverse and Quincy Adams (First ascent). July 9,1973 First descent by Eastern-South Ridge by James Wickwire, Greg Markov and Dusan Jagersky. (A.A.J., 1974, pp. 11-18).

5. Southwest Ridge (First ascent). July 10, 1973 by Peter Metcalf, Lincoln Stoller, Toby O’Brien and Henry Florschutz. (A.A.J., 1974 pp. 19-22).

6. SSPF Ridge (Transverse Ridge) (First ascent). July 17, 1975 by Steven Gaskill, Keith Echelmeyer and Steven Ruhle (A.A.J., 1976, pp. 308-312).

7. Carpé Ridge (Third ascent). July 20, 1975 by Michael S. Berman, Chip Mehring, Michael Ruckhaus, and Darrell Brown. (A.A.J., 1976, pp. 308-312).

8. Carpé Ridge (Fourth ascent). July 12, 1976 by Harvard Mountaineering Club. David Coombs, John Z. Imbrie and George West. (A.A.J., 1977, pp. 168-169).

9. West Ridge (upper part) via Grand Plateau Glacier (First ascent). June 19, 1977 by Walter Gove, Loren Adkins, Thomas Distler and George Fisher. (A.A.J., 1978, pp. 397-402).

10. West Ridge (upper part) via Grand Plateau Glacier (Second ascent). July 20, 1977 by Allen Beattie, Duke Greshook, Greg Wagner and Barbara Wight. (A.A.J., 1979, pp. 180-181).


Regarding Ascents of Mount Fairweather

1. Terris Moore, 123 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

2. Paddy Sherman, 556 Newdale Road, W. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V7T 1 W6

3. Prof. Walter R. Gove, 6624 Rolling Fork Drive, Nashville, Tennessee 37205

Loren Adkins, R.R.l, Box 1370, Juneau, Alaska 99801

4. James Wickwire, Wickwire, Lewis, Goldmark & Schorr, 500 Maynard Building, Seattle, Washington 98104

5. Steven Gaskill, Box 3157, Winter Park, Colorado 80482

6. Michael S. Berman, 627 Poplar Street, Denver, Colorado 80220

7. Peter Metcalf, 325 30th Street, Boulder, Colorado 80303

8. John Z. Imbrie, 18 Frost Street, Apt. 2, Cambridge, MA 02140

9. Walter R. Gove and Loren Adkins (see # 3 above)

10. American Alpine Journal