AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

North America, United States, Alaska, Hunter South Ridge

Hunter, South Ridge. During May, Ed Hart and I climbed the south ridge of Hunter, partly by the 1973 Waterman-Carman-Black route, traversed the mountain and descended the west ridge in a 12-day alpine-style ascent. We were flown to the Tokositna Glacier by Jim Okonek on April 26 and ferried loads through two icefalls to gain the south col at about 10,000 feet at the foot of the south ridge on April 29. We spent four days there, waiting for settled weather before starting the route on May 4. We climbed a variation to the lower 3000 feet of the ridge by climbing the mixed face to its left which avoided most of the rock climbing on the 1973 route. We then followed the fragile and sometimes double-corniced ridge for nearly a mile to reach a col below the final steep 800-foot ice arête that led to the summit plateau. We managed to traverse around the “Happy Cowboy Pinnacles” on the east side rather than straddle them as the previous south-ridge and southeast-spur parties had done. A storm kept us at the col for the next two days and the weather, which had been perfect until now, continued very unsettled for the rest of our time on the mountain. We resumed climbing on the seventh day but after two pitches we avoided climbing the rest of the badly corniced ice arête by traversing across the mixed face to its left to reach the sérac line just below the plateau. The following day we crossed the summit plateau in a whiteout on a compass bearing and established ourselves on the west ridge as it cleared that evening. Early on May 12 we climbed back up the ridge and up to the north summit—our ninth day on the mountain. The descent down the west ridge was hampered by poor visibility and took 2½ days. We reached the Kahiltna Glacier at dusk on May 4 and arrived at the landing site early next morning.

Simon Richardson, Alpine Climbing Group