American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

United States, Alaska, Crown Jewell, Throne and "Plunger," Little Switzerland

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1990

Crown Jewell, Throne and “Plunger”, Little Switzerland. In August, Rob Heineman and I spent four days on the Pika Glacier between bouts of heavy rain. On August 4 we warmed up with a climb of the south face of the Throne. The following day, Heineman and I joined with Britons Bill Whitfield and Andy Garland and climbed what we believe was the first complete ascent of the attractive, prominent pinnacle on the divide extending south from the Throne, which has come to be called the “Plunger” (c. 6300 feet). A pitch on the east face leads to a platform splitting the upper pinnacle. A second pitch follows a beautiful overhanging hand-crack to the airy top (5.9, A2). On August 6, Heineman and I established a new route on the west ridge of Crown Jewell (IV, 5.8). A 400-foot, 50° snow slope at the foot of the ridge leads to a third- and fourth-class scramble along the ridge to a headwall. Four pitches of good granite were a joy to climb. Alternating pitches of 45° ice, fourth-class rock and a steep, sharp, airy ridge brought us to the summit. Five minutes after returning to our tent, a deluge of rain started and continued for four days. We then had a three-day wet slog out to the Petersville Road. Although Little Switzerland offers outstanding granite, sharp edges are a threat to rope and rappel anchors.

James Litch, National Park Service

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