Kluane National Park Reserve Icefield Mountaineering Statistics, 1996. During the spring and summer of 1996 there were 45 mountaineering expeditions, comprising 161 persons, that ventured into the Saint Elias Mountains of Kluane National Park. The weather was typical of the Saint Elias area: unpredictable. Some groups hit it lucky and had only one storm day on their entire Logan trip, while others waited out long periods of snow and wind. One group waited nearly as long at Base Camp to fly out of the Icefields as they did to climb the East Ridge of Mount Logan.
As is the norm, most climbers attempted Mount Logan (68%, or 109 persons), with 43% (70 persons) attempting the King Trench route, and 21% (34 persons) on the East Ridge route. Mount Logan was attempted 27 times with Mount Steele and the Hubbard/Kennedy Massif being next in line with three attempts each. Of those groups who summitted on Mount Logan this year it took an average of 22 days for the East Ridge route and 23 days for the King Trench route.
A heavy snowfall in early June made extreme avalanche hazard throughout the area. This resulted in two avalanche-related fatalities and a couple of close calls. A Czech climbing team lost one of their members on the East Ridge of Mount Logan and a Mexican team lost a member on the Southwest Ridge of Mount Saint Elias (U.S.).
Parks Canada Wardens did a climb/patrol of the King Trench route on Mount Logan this year. The objectives were to monitor the use of this route and record user impressions, garbage, human waste, natural hazards and to familiarize and train search and rescue personnel. The patrol was able to contact 14 of the 17 climbing groups on this route this year. Some garbage, old caches, fixed line, and old wands were found. Human waste was found to accumulate at both the King Col and Base Camp areas. Although the route was relatively busy, the climbers contacted did not feel there was too much use. Wardens observed that most of the climbers on this route travel unroped over much of its length, and a number of close calls were noted, particularly in traveling over dangerous crevassed areas between King Col and the 5,200-meter level. One climbing group was charged and convicted for failing to register and pay climbing fees prior to entering Kluane National Park. Persons interested in organizing an expedition into the Saint Elias Mountains of Kluane are required to contact Kluane National Park Reserve at Box 5495, Haines Junction, Yukon, YOB 1LO to obtain a registration package.
Rick Staley, Senior Park Warden