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North America, Canada, Interior Ranges, Mount Dawson, North Face, Selkirk Range, 1988

Mount Dawson, North Face, Selkirk Range, 1988. Fred Beckey, Dave Pollari and I approached the Dawson group from Rogers Pass on August 2, 1988, crossing the Illecillewaet Icefield to the Glacier Circle Hut. After a day of rain, we climbed over the lower east shoulder of Mount Fox and bivouacked at the edge of the Fox Glacier above the icefall. On the morning of the 5th, we climbed the Fox Glacier to the Twisted Rock-Selwyn col, several hundred feet above and a half-mile northeast of the base of the ice couloir that is the most prominent feature of the north face of Mount Dawson. Beckey was not feeling well and elected to wait at the col. Pollari and I picked our way down scree and ledges to the base of the face, where we had our first good view of the couloir. It was 90% grey glacial ice. Old snow patches and a rock band halfway up comprised the rest. Using French technique mixed with some front-pointing, we third-classed the first several hundred feet, winding through crevasses and the bergschrund. A quarter of the way up, we roped and began moving together, keeping one or two ice screws between us. We did the entire climb that way, stopping to belay only for the awkward 50-foot rock band. Even with that relatively fast climbing style, the 2500-foot-high climb took us seven hours. We scrambled up the remaining rock to the summit, descended eastward toward the Dawson-Selwyn col and followed a rib directly back to the Twisted Rock-Selwyn col, where Fred was waiting. We returned to the bivouac site of the previous night just at dark. The couloir varied from 200 to only a few feet in width. Its slope was remarkably constant at about 55°.

Gray Thompson