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North America, United States, Alaska, Foraker and Crosson, Ski Descents, 1981

Foraker and Crosson, Ski Descents, 1981. On May 22, 1981 we landed on the Kahiltna Glacier. The team was Pierre Beghin, James Merel, Jean-Luc Ruby and I. We left for Base Camp four hours later. After three days of looking for a suitable route on the east ridge, we finally decided to climb the southeast ridge. Before leaving Anchorage, we had asked several American climbers if they thought it was possible to make a ski descent of the southeast ridge; they just looked at us and laughed. We left for the climb with ten days’ food and one pair of skis. To reach Camp I was not without danger. It was steep and we had to cross an avalanche area. I was nearly caught in a big ice avalanche. The good weather was so warm that we were obliged to climb after sunset. Thesecond day was foggy but the face was not quite so steep. That second evening we found a snow cave. In the morning we had to dig our way out as the cold winds had drifted the entrance in. The weather on the third day was extremely clear and we could see our Base Camp 6000 feet lower on the glacier. This was our longest day. Though we thought it would take us five hours, we finally reached the summit after twelve hours. With only one pair of skis, Beghin skied from the summit to Camp II, which was the easiest and best of the descent. It was difficult for the three on foot in the thigh-deep snow. We reached camp at eight P.M., exhausted. As we headed for Camp I the next day, the skiing became dangerous, some of it on 60° slopes. We had to ski roped to cross several steep sections, crevasses and avalanche areas. It snowed on the third day of the descent, from Camp I to Base Camp, which we reached late in the afternoon. Later we skied from the summit of Mount Crosson before crossing the pass to arrive after 28 days at Wonder Lake.

Rémy Poccard, Club Alpin Français