North America, United States, Alaska, Foraker and McKinley, West Buttress Variant

Publication Year: 1981.

Foraker and McKinley, West Buttress Variant. Granger Banks, Neal Beidleman, Ken Graff, Richard Soaper and I flew to the Kahiltna Glacier on May 19. After an abortive attempt on Hunter’s north ridge, we climbed Foraker’s northeast ridge. It took six days to move supplies to the top of Crosson. From there we went through deep snow alpine-style, reaching the top in six days. Our high camp was only 200 vertical feet from the summit, having been made in a white-out when we thought we were much lower. After four days of rest, we headed for McKinley. At 12,500 feet, below Windy Corner, minus Soaper we started directly up the West Buttress, meandering up 35° to 50° couloirs and rock ribs for 3000 feet to the top of the buttress. We joined the regular route at the top of the fixed ropes. We climbed to the top from 17,300 feet. We continued down after lingering for a moment over the frozen German couple below the Archdeacon’s Tower. We fought our way through the crowds, reaching Base Camp two-and-a-half days later. In unusually good weather, we were able to move each day.

Duane C. Muetzel