American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

United States, Alaska, "Naglishlamina Peak," Tordrillo Mountains

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

“Naglishlamina Peak, ” Tordrillo Mountains. The last unclimbed Anchorage skyline peak exceeding 10,000 feet was finally ascended on April 5 in a seven-day expedition under perfect early-spring conditions. “Naglishlamina” is one of the five prominent Tordrillo peaks due west of Anchorage across Cook Inlet. The others are Mount Spurr, “Chickantna Point,” Mount Torbert and Mount Gerdine. Our “mature” group (average age 45 years) consisted of Dr. James Sprott, Daniel Blake, David Johnston and me. On April 2, Lowell Thomas Jr. ferried us by bush plane to the north side of the Tordrillos, landing at 2300 feet on the Nagishlamina River below the snout of the Pothole Glacier. The lake which we recalled at this spot from two previous approaches up the Pothole to Mount Spurr had mysteriously disappeared, leaving a rough landing zone of ice ridges and wind hummocks. A fairly easy march with skis and sleds led us to Camp I at 3300 feet on the main Pothole Glacier. While the main Pothole had been the access to Spurr on at least two earlier expeditions, we think that we were the first to use the northeast branch to gain the Spurr plateau. This tributary is relatively crevasse-free and straightforward up to 6500 feet. Camp II at 6200 feet was below a prominent icefall with steep walls capped by hanging glaciers rising before us, an inspiring sight. The fine weather inexplicably improved with each passing day. On day three, we climbed fairly steep firm snow on the northern margin of the glacier to reach a prominent rock ridge at 7850 feet, where we placed Camp III. The terrain fell away on all sides of this spectacular location with Spurr and “Naglishlamina” right above us and the ice plateau of the Chigmits to the southwest, bounded on its far side by abrupt, unclimbed pickets in the Revelation Mountains. Our summit day, April 5, dawned nearly unclouded and windless with temperatures slightly above zero. The ridge required rock-and-snow scrambling to a subsidiary peak of 10,175 feet, overlooking the Harpoon Glacier. From there, we dropped to a gradual saddle and then climbed to the rounded summit of “Naglishlamina” (3373 meters, 11,068 feet), which we reached at 2:30 with cloudless skies and -5° F. The descent on April 6 took us from Camp III all the way to the landing zone. On the 7th, Johnston soloed P 6740 by its southwest ridge. The following morning, Lowell Thomas slipped in ahead of foul weather and returned us to the comforts and cares of civilization.

Thomas Meacham, Mountaineering Club of Alaska

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