American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Alaska Range, Mount Hunter, Southeast Ridge, Hard Saying Not Knowing

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1997

Mount Hunter, Southeast Ridge, Hard Saying Not Knowing. In early May, Judd Stewart and myself (Wesley Bunch) were flown into a seldom-visited arm of the Tokositna Glacier by pilot Doug Geeting. We arrived with the intention of attempting a new route on the southeast face of Mount Hunter. After heavy snowfalls and the near-loss of our Advanced Base Camp, we decided to change our plans as the face was just too dangerous. We decided to attempt the once-climbed southeast ridge, but we intended to start the route over a mile lower on the ridge. The initial climbing entailed interesting mixed rock, ice, and snow climbing to reach the ridge proper. Once on the ridge we continued to climb untrammeled ground with hideous snow conditions. Belays and intermediate anchors were non-existent or useless for the better part of three days of corniced ridge traversing. An irreversible rappel of a rock gendarme sealed our commitment. After intersecting the original Southeast Ridge route we bivouacked and decided to make for the summit the following night. Our summit attempt was thwarted a couple of hours from the top due to the never-ending fear that the snow conditions presented. Climbing the heavily corniced ridge with sugar snow was one thing, but downclimbing over two miles of it was unthinkable. After seemingly endless hours of rappelling down the original route we returned to advanced Base Camp and laid our tensions to rest. We flew to Talkeetna two days later. We named our variation Hard Saying Not Knowing. For any alpinists seeking high adventure there is still another mile of difficult climbing to be added onto this beautiful ridge.

Wesley Bunch, unaffiliated

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