American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Fairweather, Eliza and Other Ascents and Tranverse from Mouth of Alsek River to Davidson Glacier and Chilkat Inlet

  • Climbs And Expeditions
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  • Publication Year: 1992

Fairweather, Eliza and Other Ascents and Traverse from Mouth of Alsek River to Davidson Glacier and Chilkat Inlet. Our trip members were Betsy Fletcher, Craig Hollinger, Markus Kellerhals, Peter Stone and I as leader. After placing food caches by ski plane with Mike Ivers of Gulf Air, on May 7 we headed from its mouth up the Alsek and then up the Grand Plateau Glacier. Six-and-a-half days later we stood on the summit of Mount Fairweather, having climbed the west ridge from the plateau to the north. After feasting, we spent five days climbing some of the technically more difficult minor peaks near the plateau. These included P 11,105 (3354 meters) 3¾ miles northwest of Fair- weather by its south ridge and the 3280-meter (10,761-foot) bump 2 kilometers east of Mount Root from the south. (Peaks in Alaska are given in feet and those in Canada in meters.) We also made a tiring ascent to the Fairweather-Quincy Adams col. After completing the first two weeks, we headed on the second leg of the trip with seven days of food. From lower on the Grand Plateau Glacier we crossed on skis a mile north of Mount Lodge and skied along the Grand Pacific Glacier to our next food cache near its junction with the Malbern Glacier. With three days to spare, we moved into the Mount Eliza area. We unsuccessfully attempted Eliza from the south but did climb P 2360 (7743 feet). The next day, two of us climbed to the summit of Eliza (2960 meters, 9711 feet) via the north ridge, a thrilling knife-edged, snow-and-ice route. We also climbed two minor bumps 1½ and 3 kilometers north and northeast of Eliza (2720 and 2632 meters, 8924 and 8635 feet). On skiing back down to the Grand Pacific Glacier, we took a two-hour side-trip to climb the higher of “The Rabbit Ears,” (1680 meters, 5512 feet), located 7½ kilometers northeast of Eliza. After picking up our next load of food, we started up the Tenas Tikke Glacier. The weather turned poor. We spent five days, from May 27 to 31, either in the tents and at other times crawling along with the aid of map, compass and altimeter. We crossed the Carroll Glacier to go along the Tsirku Glacier, entering Alaska again just south of Mount Harris. We arrived at our final food cache in the upper cirque of the Riggs Glacier a day behind schedule. After descending the glacier 5½ kilometers the following day, we were held up by Peter Stone’s snow-blindness for 2½ days at 3500 feet on the Riggs. In good weather for the first half of a day, we climbed P 5280 (1609 meters) on the western flank of the Riggs. With the recovery of Peter’s eyes, we continued on in “in-and-out” weather. We ascended a glacier to a pass north of Sitth-gha-ee Peak and descended south to the Casemate Glacier. We ascended it over the divide to the Davidson Glacier. The Davidson was formidable, spectacular and time-consuming but possible on its southern ice and moraine. On the shores of Chilkat Inlet, we attracted a local fishing boat with an explosive white-gas fire. Haines Airways then was alerted and picked us up and dropped us off in Haines on the morning of June 9.

David E. Williams, Varsity Outdoor Club of the University of British Columbia

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