American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Wrangell-St. Elias Mountains, Mount Anderson, First Ascent

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

Mount Anderson, First Ascent. Mount Anderson (10,972 feet), in the St. Elias Mountains, lies at the junction of the Tittmann and Anderson glaciers only two miles from the Canadian border. It is named for one of the members of the American boundary survey party that visited the region. I had first explored the possibility of climbing this mountain in the fall of 1988 after spending years studying the history of the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and the survey work that took place along the border in the early 1900s. During my research, I had found photographs of not only the members with large alpenstocks, but horses on the Anderson Glacier itself. Interestingly enough, a boundary party visited the Anderson Glacier region in 1913, climbed P. 9630, and reached over 7,000 feet on Mount Anderson itself. At that time, they named a number of the mountains including Mounts Tittmann, Anderson, and George. My first attempt to climb the mountain failed in April, 1994, due to avalanche conditions high on the mountain. In August of the same year I walked in from the Ram Glacier some 20 miles distant, but failed on the upper ridge due to a rock gendarme that I did not wish to climb without rock protection. In May, 1995, we failed again due to a snow storm that created bad avalanche conditions on the upper 2,000 feet.

In 1996 I was back once again to make another try. I had planned to climb the route alone, but Ruedi Homberger and Stefan Wyss from Switzerland were in Alaska and had heard of my planned trip to the St. Elias Mountains. We decided to go in together and had Paul Claus of Ultima Thule Outfitters fly us in. On May 26, Paul landed us on the bare ice of the main Tittmann Glacier at around 5,200 feet with his Super Cub. We skied up to 6,200 feet at the base of an ice-fall on the southwest side of the mountain and set up camp. We immediately skied through the icefall to explore a route through the seracs and crevasses to about 7,200 feet. The next day, May 27, we left camp at 4 a.m., retraced our steps through the icefall, then skied through the upper basin to a col at approximately 8,900 feet. Here we left our skis and proceeded up the south ridge, where we reached the main summit at around 10:30 am. We had tremendous views of Mounts Logan, St. Elias, Miller, Bona, Churchill, University, Bear and hundreds of unnamed peaks. The clouds were rolling up the Anderson glacier and obscured our views of Mounts Lucania, Steele, Wood, Slaggard and others to the east. Finally, I had made the first ascent of Mount Anderson on my fourth attempt. It’s technically not that hard of a climb, but things always seemed to happen. Thanks, Ruedi and Steffi.

Danny Kost

This AAJ article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.