American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Soviet-American Exchange on Mount McKinley

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1987

Soviet-American Exchange on Mount McKinley. In the spring of 1986 the Soviet-American Climbing Exchange resumed. Five of the ten members of the Soviet team had been members of the Soviet-American expedition which climbed Pik Pobedy in 1985. (See A.A.J., 1986, pages 21-26.) They were Team Captain Nikolai Chorny, Sergei Bugomolov, Vladimir Puchkov, Oleg Borisyonok and Yuri Golodov. On the 1982 Soviet Everest expedition, Chorny reached Camp IV but had to descend to rescue another climber. Puchkov and Golodov reached the summit. The other climbers were Vitaly Bakhtigozin, Leonid Troshinenko, Yury Borodkin and Viktor Baibara. Troshinenko was logistics director on Everest. Non-climber Valery Epov was the Team Leader in Alaska. Joined by William Gamer, the nine Soviet climbers started up through the icefalls between the Cassin Ridge and the West Rib. (See A.A.J., 1973, pages 282-288.) We climbed to 16,500 feet and traversed onto the rib. The summit was reached on mid-morning of May 18 in superb weather. Though this was rigorous climbing by some standards, it was normal for this group. After the climb, Lowell Thomas, Jr., Charlie Sassara and John Markel orchestrated an Alaskan odyssey which is now legend in the Soviet Union. From Point Barrow to Halibut Cove, they displayed for the Soviets’ joy all that is breathtaking and generous about Alaska and its people. They worked hard and long. Like the Alaskan section of the American Alpine Club, the New York and Blue Ridge sections warmly greeted and magnificently entertained them on their month- long stay in America. Several corporate sponsors and many members of the Club contributed a lot to this exchange, for which we are very grateful.

William Garner and Randall M. Starrett

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