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North America, United States, Alaska, Huntington Winter Attempt, West Face to the Harvard Route

Huntington Winter Attempt, West Face to the Harvard Route. Leo Americus, Dave McGivern, Charlie Sassara and I flew to the upper Tokositna Glacier on March 11. From an 8000-foot Base Camp, we moved through an icefall to a secondary camp on a bench below the notch where the Harvard route joins the west face at 9000 feet. On February 11, we fixed 750 feet of rope over nearly 2000 feet of terrain to the base of an ice couloir over mostly 35° to 45° ice and snow. Two days later, we jümared and climbed to that 1500-foot water-ice gully that joins the upper Harvard route above the “Nose Pitch.” The first lead was the steepest with a 30-foot vertical section at the onset. The second was on 75° black ice. The third 300-foot pitch began with a 20-foot vertical apron and eased to 55° to 60 ice. The final two pitches varied from 45° to 55° ice, some covered with snow. On the traverse that leads to the upper snow face, night closed in and forced a bivouac on a tiny 15-foot ledge. The next day, we completed the traverse and climbed 600 feet of 40° to 60° blue ice to a rock outcrop, where we hacked a tiny ice ledge out of an ice bulge. A weather system moved through and created high winds at the exposed bivouac site. Short calm breaks were never long enough to complete the remaining 700 vertical feet to the summit. We had begun with only 2½ days of food. By rationing, we held out for three days of high winds on this tiny perch. On the fifth day, we packed our gear. During a slight break at midday, we went for broke on a summit bid in questionable weather. Sassara led 300 feet on 50° ice to the French ridge, followed by McGivern, but hurricane-strength winds on the ridge made them bail out. We began to rappel off, but darkness fell and we spent the night at the lower bivouac site. None of us could sleep that night. It was a relief to descend the ice couloir in daylight to the lower snowfields.

John Bauman, Unaffiliated