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North America, United States, Alaska, Mount McGinnis, Southeast Ridge

Mount McGinnis, Southeast Ridge. In October, 1995, on our way in to attempt the southeast ridge of McGinnis Peak, Rick Studley plucked me out of the Delta River three times. As we walked up toward the peak memories of my last climb on McGinnis flooded my thoughts. I never have been so scared of a climb before. We took the south fork of the McGinnis Glacier up toward a col between Peak 9700 and the southeast ridge proper. We dug a cave in the col at 9,000 feet. We climbed Peak 9700 under stormy conditions. The next day brought perfect weather so we had no excuses not to venture out on the southeast ridge. Double cornices, 4,000 feet of exposure, and granite and metamorphic munge gendarmes made for an interesting outing. The crux was a granite step split by a 5.6 crack. We caved at 10,500 feet.

We climbed faces interspersed with sections of ridge too narrow to stand on while the south and east faces of McGinnis dropped down below us. Rick led 90 percent of the route and I was glad. Though I had already been up and down the northeast ridge in February, 1994, I wasn’t looking forward to revisiting the places I had epiced on. We sat on top looking over at Shand, then led down the northeast ridge, moving fast on known terrain. We climbed the last bit of ridge down to a col at 8,800 feet in the dark. The next day we headed down into the fog. It took us eight days road-to-road to climb the peak.

Jeff apple Benowitz, unaffiliated