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North America, United States, Alaska, P 5000, Chilkoot Inlet, Coast Range

P 5000, Chilkoot Inlet, Coast Range. John Brainard and I decided to attempt the first known ascent of this beautiful and oft-viewed peak above the eastern shore of Chilkoot Inlet, 2½ miles southwest of Sinclair Mountain. On July 1, we met at the landing strip near Haines with typical clouds and a 2500-foot ceiling. We went eight miles south to wait out the weather on the western shore of Chilkoot Inlet. We awoke early on July 3 to surprisingly clear skies. The canoe crossing required 55 minutes of dedicated, strong paddling. The killer whales and sea lions confused our landing on the opposite shore. We immediately set off through the most hideous devil’s club and dense vegetation. After nine hours of exhausting effort, we bivouacked at 3000 feet. The next morning was also astonishingly clear. We forded a glacial lake and slugged up a 45° snow slope, having cached our technical equipment. At the top of the slope we found ourselves in a steep bowl with two possible summits. I favored the peak we could actually see, but Brainard had studied this mountain for two years and urged that we push up beyond the sheer mushy snow wall which blocked our view. A thousand vertical feet left us on a small shelf viewing another wall above us and avalanche cracks in the snow crust 300 yards to the left. Discretion lost out and we went up another 250 yards and happily topped out onto a 20° slope leading to a mixed rock-and-snow summit. We built a cairn and buried a canister at 3:10 P.M. on July 4. The descent was even more miserable than the ascent. We arrived at the shore of Chilkoot Inlet shortly after midnight, totally exhausted. The tide carried us, but the wind helped and we made the friendly western shore at three A.M.

John C.D. Bruno