American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Canada, Yukon Territory, St. Elias Mountains, Kluane National Park Reserve Mountaineering Summary

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1996

Kluane National Park Reserve Mountaineering Summary, 1995. During the spring and summer of 1995 there were 40 mountaineering expeditions, comprising 169 people who ventured into the St. Elias Mountains of Kluane. As is often the case, April and early May were exceptional for weather but by mid-May the late spring storms set in with a vengeance. Quite a few of the expeditions attempting Mount Logan during this time were more often than not tentbound. Very high winds and heavy snowfalls were reported by many of the returning groups, especially on the King Trench and East Ridge routes of Mount Logan.

Once again the vast majority of the people who visited the glaciers of Kluane this year headed for Mount Logan (74 percent, or 125 people), with 53 percent (89 people) on the King Trench and 17 percent (28 people) on the East Ridge. Those traveling and climbing on any other route in the Icefields would be unlikely to cross paths with (or even see in the distance) another polypropylene-clad biped. The increased concentration of users on these two routes, although still low in numbers compared to other popular climbing areas, is resulting in some noticeable build-up of waste. Many groups have complained of coming across remains of old camps with bags of garbage, food and fuel caches and abandoned fixed lines. This problem is particularly evident on a route such as the East Ridge, where specific camp sites are used over and over during a season and in subsequent seasons. Groups that leave unwanted equipment, food and other material on the mountain, thinking it will be buried by snow and gone forever, are unfortunately leaving an eyesore for the next group that digs in for a night's stay. Since all groups come fully prepared with all the provisions that they will need for their climb it is not justifiable to leave bags of food or cans of fuel as an emergency cache on the route.

Canadian Derrick Stanbury climbed the King Trench route from May 5 to May 20, completing the first solo ascent of Mount Logan. One expedition was involved in an avalanche at 15,500 feet on the East Ridge of Mount Logan. No one was seriously injured; however, they lost a great deal of equipment and requested a helicopter evacuation. A rescue team of park wardens and a helicopter was successful in slinging the four Austrians off the mountain. The climbers were insured and paid the costs for the evacuation. Persons interested in organizing an expedition into the St. Elias Mountains of Kluane are required to contact Kluane National Park Reserve at Box 5495, Haines Junction, Yukon, YOB ILO to obtain a registration package.

Andrew Lawrence, Kluane National Park

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