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North America, United States, Alaska, Mount McKinley, Northwest Buttress, Second Ascent, 1982

Mount McKinley, Northwest Buttress, Second Ascent, 1982. Alan Novey, David Shrimpton, John Rehmer, Jim Snyder, John Stolpman and I skied up the Kahiltna Glacier to Kahiltna Pass (10,000 feet) and climbed down to the Peters Glacier (8000 feet). It took four days to get ourselves and three weeks’ gear to the base of the route. We climbed the south side of the buttress, whereas the first-ascent party in 1954 climbed the north side, to attain the ridge crest at 10,200 feet. The snow and ice were excellent but more difficult as we approached the crest, where we set up Camp I. Beyond, the Coxcomb was a very spectacular, narrow, icy, corniced ridge. The first real obstacle was the first rock pyramid, which stopped Dr. Cook in 1903. In 1954 Beckey and crew climbed this rotten rock, while we climbed steep ice beside it, doing only two pitches of mixed rock and ice. Camp II at 12,500 feet was at the base of the crux of the climb, the second pyramid. Beckey climbed around this on the north in a great sloping cirque, a loaded avalanche slope. We climbed steep ice and rotten rock on the pyramid’s west face. Beyond this we followed narrow ridges to Camp III at 14,200 feet. We again ascended steep ice to avoid rock, good this time, to pass the last major problem. The first-ascent party in Korean boots would have had problems front-pointing; hence their choice of rock over ice. Ridge climbing and more steep snow and ice brought us to the great plateau at 18,200 feet and our last camp. Rehmer and Snyder reached the North Peak on May 14, 1982. The northwest buttress is an extremely beautiful route with much challenging climbing and no people!

Gary Bocarde