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North America, Canada, British Columbia, Mount Fairweather from Canada

Mount Fairweather from Canada. For years I had been fascinated by Mount Fairweather. Sitting astride the Canadian-Alaskan border, it is the highest peak in British Columbia. The idea of climbing the peak by a Canadian route vaguely developed in my mind. Bradford Washburn’s article in the A.A.J., 1981 reignited my desire for the climb, but it ruled out an all-Canadian route. The steep northeast wall of the summit pyramid which forms the only Canadian portion of the mountain is overhung by a 300-foot-thick glacial icecap. Our desire to avoid ending our climbing careers prematurely on a death route for the sake of Canadian nationalism dictated that we would go for the summit along the west ridge after a Canadian approach. From the head of the Ferris Glacier a ridge led to the Grand Plateau, which we could traverse to ascend the west ridge. On June 14, Fred Thiessen, Ellen Woodd, Robert Brusse, Gordon Frank, Eric White and I left Seattle for Juneau and Gustavus, on the edge of Glacier Bay. From there we were taken by float plane to the head of Tarr Inlet and dropped off on a sandy beach opposite the Margerie and Grand Pacific Glaciers. After carrying our supplies into Canada, we were ferried by Canadian helicopter to the head of the Ferris Glacier and the base of our ridge at 4700 feet. It was immediately obvious that we could not climb the ridge directly. The first 2000 feet were of nearly vertical metamorphosed shale. For the next three or four days we ferried loads up the glacier steeply skirting the south side of our ridge. From Camp I at 7200 feet we forged a route directly to the ridge crest at 8100 feet through steep ice and snow mixed with rotten rock. The knife-edged crest was spectacular with crisscrossing cornices and precipices of over 2000 feet to the glacier on either side. The narrow ridge led to a final steep headwall that topped on the Grand Plateau at 9600 feet. We should like to name our ridge after Andrew Morrison Taylor, a Canadian. Andy Taylor was one of those who made the epic first ascent of Mount Logan and was of the party that climbed Fairweather for the first time. After six days, we were on the edge of the Grand Plateau waiting for the notoriously bad weather we had been experiencing to improve. Fortunately, after 24 hours, high winds cleared the higher altitudes. This was the start of a five-day fine spell. We donned our skis and traversed the Grand Plateau north of Quincy Adams and Fairweather to camp at 10,500 feet below the west peak of Fairweather. The next day we ascended directly to the col between the west and main summits on skis. As the morning wind died, we ascended the west ridge, reaching the summit at 4:30 P.M. on July 25. This was the second Canadian ascent of Fairweather and by a mainly Canadian route. It was also the first ascent of Fairweather by a Canadian woman.

Grant McCormack, Alpine Club of Canada