American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Mount Fairweather, 1981

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1983

Mount Fairweather, 1981. Kim Grandfield, Dave Lunn and I climbed the classic south (Carpé) ridge in a light-weight expedition which began with a beach landing on May 17, 1981. Due to bad flying weather and confused geography, we landed at the next major creek north of our intended landing at Sea Otter Creek, not discovering our mistake until four days later, when we arrived at the Sea Otter rather than the Fairweather Glacier. We carried loads through the wildest and most difficult terrain any of us had experienced. We turned south and explored the bizarre glacier that parallels the coast along the Fairweather Fault, in Desolation Valley. After a very difficult traverse of the Fairweather Glacier, we finally joined the normal approach path. Leaving our sixth approach camp at 3100 feet, we began the climb around noon. Upon gaining the ridge, we traversed right to a good camp site at the right edge and just below the major rock band at 7250 feet. The next camp was at 11,800 feet on the knife-edged ridge below the main shoulder. After a rest day, we climbed on May 27, 1981 to the summit in conditions that deteriorated all day. We made a bivouac perched on a platform we chopped into the wall of a covered crevasse directly below the summit. After one more night on the ridge we reached the glacier. Our return path led directly off the end of the Fairweather Glacier close to its north margin. Although shorter than our approach, the terrain was even more difficult, the final 2½ miles requiring a full day’s effort.

Gary Clark

This AAJ article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.