American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Canada, Yukon Territory, Mount Kennedy, East Ridge

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1984

Mount Kennedy, East Ridge. On June 19, Coloradan Kathy Nilson, and Canadians Allan Derbyshire, Ron Quaife and I were landed on the South Lowell Glacier at 6800 feet by Andy Williams in a Helio Courier. We intended to climb the South Lowell Glacier to the col at its head and from there ascend Mount Kennedy’s unclimbed east ridge. On the morning of June 20 we were greeted by an unsual visitor. After following a small, moving black dot on the glacier below for an hour or so, a pair of ears emerged from behind a snow ridge a few hundred yards from camp. Closer inspection revealed that our guest was a lynx. We became the “Missing Lynx Expedition.” The upper reaches of the South Lowell Glacier were guarded by a complicated icefall which stretched right across the glacier. Keeping to the left, we found a winding route over narrow snow bridges and established Advance Base Camp at 7500 feet. Objective hazards were not lacking. In addition to snow avalanches and heavily crevassed glacier with soft snow bridges, the head of the South Lowell was exposed to massive ice avalanches from the hanging glacier high on the slopes to our west. The slopes to the northeast were prone to avalanche and rockfall. We climbed on the southwest-facing slopes from seven o’clock at night until two in the morning. Travelling high, just under the rocks, cut down the avalanche hazard but rockfall remained a problem. In the early morning of June 23 we reached the col at the head of the glacier and established camp. After a couple of hours ascent from the col, it became clear that only Derbyshire and Quaife were to make the final ascent. They took 22 hours for the round-trip over the difficult route to the summit, which they reached in the early morning of June 24. We beat a hasty retreat from our camp on the col. The route was now barely passable through the icefall and it was with some relief that we reached Base Camp on the morning of June 26.

Robert Jickling, Canada

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