North America, United States, Alaska, Wrangell-St. Elias Mountains, Mount Saint Elias, First Winter Ascent
Mount Saint Elias, First Winter Ascent. On February 13, 1996, David Briggs, Gardner Heaton and Joe Reichert were flown to 2,300 feet on the Tyndall glacier, and, over the course of the next 30 days, ascended the southwest ridge of Mount Saint Elias. Their goal had been to attempt St. Elias from the ocean, thereby climbing 18,008 feet in less than 18 miles, possibly the largest vertical gain in the shortest distance in the world. Compromise occurred when reconnaissance photos revealed how broken up the first 2,000 feet of the Tyndall was, and the unusually dry winter left it entirely exposed. From Camp I the team made a possible variation (the “Milk Bowl”) to the Harvard route, bypassing 2,000 feet of loose fourth class climbing by traversing northwest under a hanging glacier to a couloir that led directly to the 7,800 foot plateau. The team sum-mitted on February 29, and on their descent, on March 5, climbed Haydon Peak via its west ridge. A full account of their climb appears earlier in this journal.