American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Pyramid Peak, Saint Elias Mountains

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1988

Pyramid Peak, Saint Elias Mountains. On September 11, Dan Doak and I flew to 4200 feet 2½ miles south of Pyramid Peak, which lies 22 miles southeast of McCarthy, hoping to finish making the first ascent that Dan, Jesper Krogholt from Denmark and I had attempted two weeks earlier. Then, we had hiked in from the Dan Creek airstrip eight miles northwest of the peak, ascending the Dan Creek drainages to look at possible routes on its north and west sides. Seeing no feasible routes there, we attempted it by a glacier which flows off the mountain to the south from a basin between the east and west summits. We climbed the icefall to reach the basin and opted to try the higher eastern summit (8910 feet). We ascended a 45°, 400-foot ice couloir at the upper end of the basin to reach the north ridge. I led one pitch on the ridge to 8500 feet. Due to approaching bad weather and lack of time, we descended. So Dan and I had returned to finish the climb. Now we were looking at a different mountain with two feet of new snow. We camped at 6100 feet a few hundred yards from the south face. On September 12, we established a route through the icefall to 7700 feet. On the 13th, we hoped to return through the icefall, but it snowed and was foggy. On the 14th, after reaching the basin at 7900 feet, we decided to go straight up the west face to the east summit. It was a 50° snow-and-ice climb to within 300 feet of the top. Then we traversed to the right under the huge sérac which hung off the north side of the summit over shaky snow bridges and up the final steep ridge. Beautiful, surrealistic rime covered the rock and even the séracs. The 8875-foot west peak looked ominous with the top 150 feet resembling the summit mushroom of Cerro Torre. We didn’t enjoy the view for long and our descent through the icefall in fog was interesting.

Danny W. Kost, Unaffiliated

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