American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Foraker East Face

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

Foraker East Face. To acclimatize, Jaroslav Jaško and I climbed Mount Crosson. From there, we planned our route, which was to the right of the Pink Panther route on the east face of Foraker. For the climb we took five days of food, a Salewa Sierra tent without the fly, a 50-meter rope, 8 rock pitons, 6 ice screws, and a set of excentrics. We felt the ascent would not be too dangerous despite some snowy séracs. We left Base Camp on the Kahiltna Glacier in the afternoon of May 19, although the snow was avalanching off the face down onto the glacier. In four hours we were in a badly broken section of the glacier below the east face of Foraker. Finding the route through the crevasses to the bottom of the face was complicated but we managed it before bivouacking. On the morning of May 20 snow was falling and we climbed the glacier looking for a place to cross the bergschrund, which was ten meters wide. We were relieved when we could cross a weak snowbridge and get onto the face. Crevasses and weak snowbridges there were unnerving. On the fourth pitch, a snow avalanche passed over us from above. We were racing against time. Snow slides made us stop climbing after 12 hours. We bivouacked in a snow cave under a big rock at the edge of the buttress. On May 21 we tried to climb as fast as possible. We were in 50° knee-deep snow. When it was rock, it was verglas-covered. Since there was no place to bivouac, we kept on climbing until midnight, when we chopped a ledge in a snow ridge. We had surmounted difficult rock and much steep ice; one pitch was 85° and another 75°. We waked up on May 22 to lovely weather. We really enjoyed the mixed terrain. By two o’clock we were finally at the last nearly overhanging snow pitch before emerging onto the southeast ridge. After an hour’s rest, it took us five hours to get to the summit. We began our descent down the Sultana Ridge and after sleeping a few hours, we finished by descending the Japanese route. Again, crevasses were a major problem, but we crawled through, belaying carefully. At nine P.M. we were back at our first bivouac. We rested until the cold froze our tracks across the Kahiltna Glacier. In the pale light of the night, we greeted our friends at Base Camp at 1:30 A.M. on May 23.

Dušan Beci'k, lames, Bratislava, Czechoslovakia

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