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North America, Canada, Yukon Territory, Lucania and Steele

Lucania and Steele. Kevin O’Connell, leader, Peter Cummings, Brad Nei- man, Peter Steele, Martin Zabaleta, Basque, and I were flown to the upper Chitina Glacier from Kluane Lake by Andy Williams on June 16. Our Base Camp was at 8500 feet and we placed a camp on the north face of Mount Steele at 10,125 feet the next day. Peter Cummings encountered a new (for us) hazard by falling into a crevasse filled part way with water. Drowning in a crevasse is a distinct possibility. By following a bulge on the western side of the north face of Steele, essentially used by the 1967 parties, we reached the immense plateau between Steele and Lucania on June 19. From a camp at 13,200 feet there, we reached the summit of Steele around midnight June 21-22. On the 23rd, all of us except Peter Steele climbed to the top of Lucania, traversing the north face from the Steele-Lucania saddle, making, I believe, only the seventh ascent of Lucania. This is typical of the entire St. Elias Range where the sense of isolation still prevails, unlike the area around McKinley. We descended to the Chitina Glacier on June 25 and found incredibly soft wet snow that made travel difficult even with skis. We had used snowshoes on the plateau itself. An attempted evacuation the next morning by Andy’s ski-equipped Helio Courier on the frozen snow surface almost worked. During take-off, a ski broke through the crust and the plane pitched. We dug him out and he flew off empty. Finally after considerable poor weather we were flown out by helicopter on June 30. Except for the weather at the end we were only held back by one stormy day up high.

Stephen Bezruchka