AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

North America, United States, Alaska, Brooks Range, The Western British Mountains, Traverse

The Western British Mountains, Traverse. The winter in the Brooks Range lasted right up to

the last day in May. On the first day of June, the final winter storm ended and the white carpet of snow gave way to the gray carpet of spring tundra. Six of us landed on the aufeis sheets of the lower Kongakut near Pagilak Creek. Our hope was to cross the western British Mountains from the Kongakut River in Alaska to the Firth River in the Yukon Territory. We succeeded in this endeavor. Deep snow limited our movements for the first days but, by June 7, we had ascended Pagilak Creek and crossed the pass into the upper Malcolm River at the international border. As if to accommodate our political imaginations, the Brooks Range changes in character abruptly at this place, showing a heavy glacial history to the west and appearing almost entirely unglaciated to the east. On a tributary of the Malcolm leading to Sheep Creek, we found an anomalous expression of white spruce, the northernmost spruce on the American Continent. Grizzly and wolverine also were present. Three minor climbs were made at the passes, along with ascents of limestone walls and pinnacles (5.4). Our members included Victor Bradford, Mary Weidler, Jerry Weidler, Fred Smith and the prominent Swiss ornithologist Peter Balwin.

Dennis Schmidtt