American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

A.A.C., Alaska Section

  • Club Activities
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1984

A.A.C., Alaska Section. The year 1983 was another active one for Alaskan mountaineering. It began with more new ice climbs being found in the Valdez and Anchorage areas, and with Section members attempting winter ascents including Mounts Illiamna and Hayes. Winter activity increased in the Mount McKinley area with several attempts made on McKinley and Huntington. This year Mount McKinley was climbed for the third time in winter, the ascent being made via the West Rib. The success of this climb was marred by the death of one of the team members while descending from the summit. First winter ascents were also made by members on Mounts Spurr and Valhalla. From May to July the climbing season was in full swing with many members climbing and skiing in the various Alaskan ranges. When not in Alaska, members could be found in Yosemite, the Cascades, the Rockies, the Alps, and in the Himalaya.

In looking back at 1983, it is not hard to be satisfied with the Section’s progress. In the last year there has been considerable growth in membership, sparked in part by an increase in Section activities. The Section hosted two regional meetings in addition to its annual meeting. The purpose of the regional meetings is to provide opportunities for climbers throughout Alaska to participate in Club activities and events. This was clearly evident at the First Annual Ice Climbing Festival in Valdez held during the long Washington’s Birthday weekend. The festival brought climbers from across the state to one of the world’s premier ice-climbing centers. Routes climbed ranged from Grades II to VI, and there were no serious injuries. With over 40 climbers attending, the festival was a huge success and a highlight of 1983.

The Section was also active in the community forum by continuing to work closely with the National Park Service in their development of motorized access restrictions, and by working as an advisor to the Anchorage Community College’s Board of Regents in their expansion of mountaineering and wilderness skills programs.

In September over 90 people attended the Section’s annual meeting, banquet, and slide programs. Besides the discussion of general mountaineering topics, the National Park Service presented a report on the 1983 climbing season. The weather was much improved this year, with a resulting summit-success rate of over 50% on McKinley. Many other peaks were also climbed. Records were again broken with more climbers in Denali Park than ever before, and, as can be expected, accidents were also on the rise. However, emergency air-supported rescues declined from recent years, evidence that climbers are becoming better prepared and more committed to self-rescue. Disposal of waste continues to be a problem in the park, and the Section plans to work with the Park Service in developing a solution. Other future Section plans include an expanded newsletter, more regional meetings, and additional activities. With this kind of momentum, 1984 should be better than ever!

Steve Davis, Chairman

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