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United States, Alaska, Hunter, Southwest Ridge to South Summit

Hunter, Southwest Ridge to South Summit. After encountering chest-deep snow on the Lowe-Kennedy route, Andy Jenson, Cory Brettmann, Dave Karl and I had Jim Okonek fly us to the south side of Mount Hunter. We had our eyes set on the southwest ridge first climbed by Alan Kearney and company in 1979 and apparently not yet seconded. The first 2500 vertical feet were in a couloir with perfect conditions; we raced up unroped in two hours. We then placed our first camp on a bench 3/4 of a mile from the top of the couloir and fixed two lines through some moderate mixed terrain. The next day was a long one with 11 pitches of hard 65° to 70° ice that ended at 11,600 feet for our high camp. Two days of storm and an avalanche that nearly did Jenson and Brettmann in came close to turning us around, but never-the-less, on May 27 we headed for the summit, only to be stopped 100 feet shy by an overhanging bergschrund which seemed to encircle the summit cone. Off with the crampons, and 6-foot-8 Cory and 6-foot-4 Andy boosted me up over the final obstacle. Two days more of storm passed without food in wet bags before we descended. After rappelling the steep ice, we glissaded the 2500-foot initial couloir in 15 minutes, although it nearly ended in tragedy when I sailed over the schrund.

Chris Haaland