American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Canada, Yukon, Kluane National Park Reserve, Mt. Slaggard Area, Various Activity

  • Climbs And Expeditions
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  • Publication Year: 1998

Mt. Slaggard Area, Various Activity. Ten of us spent June 28 to July 14 at a base camp five kilometers south-southwest of Mt. Slaggard on the uppermost eastern basin of the southeastern arm of the Anderson Glacier at an elevation of 3535 meters. There is an excellent ski plane landing site at this location, with two kilometers by half a kilometer of gently rising glacier, without any crevasses, and with suitable “bumps” for takeoff and landing of ski planes. Paul Claus of Ultima Thule first used his Supercub to pack down a landing strip, then brought people and gear in by Beaver in a 40-minute round trip from Ultima Thule lodge in the Chitina.

During our stay, we made the following ascents: South Slaggard (4370m), the highest unclimbed peak in Canada at the time of our ascent, a fine mountain with at least five excellent snow/ice/granite ridges. Martin LeRoux and Norm Greene made the first ascent via the east face on July 1. Paul Geddes, Willa Harasym, Mark McDermott, Joe Piccininni made the second, also by the east face, on July 10. The third ascent was made via the north ridge. The route was climbed in its entirety from the Mt. Slaggard/“South Slaggard” col by Bill McKenzie, Roger Wallis, Dave Britnell, and Tony Marshall, on July 10.

“West Slaggard 1” (4290m), the second-highest unclimbed peak in Canada at the time of our ascent, is a fine independent mountain, with a large rock face on the south side and 800- meter ice slopes on the north side rising directly out of the northeast arm of the Anderson Glacier. The first ascent was made via the east face on July 6, by the entire party of ten, in three ropes: Paul Geddes, Martin Le Roux, and Mark McDermott; Norm Greene, Dave Britnell, and Tony Marshall; Roger Wallis, Willa Harasym, Joe Piccininni, and Bill McKenzie. (Our first attempt on July 4 was abandoned at the serac barrier due to zero visibility, heavy snow and much too warm temperatures.)

“Southeast Slaggard” (4207m) is an isolated, independent mountain at the far east end of our basin. On July 2, Paul Geddes, Willa Harasym, Mark McDermott, Roger Wallis, Dave Britnell, Tony Marshall, and Bill McKenzie ascended via the northwest face and descended via the north ridge, all on skis (except crossing the bergschrund). “Southeast Slaggard” was the sixth highest unclimbed mountain in Canada at the time of our ascent. It has been attempted twice before, in 1967 and 1983 from the Chitina Glacier.

An attempt was made on Mt. Slaggard (4742m), which has had four previous ascents: 1959, from the northeast Anderson Glacier, northeast face and north-northeast ridge; 1967, from the Chitina Glacier and east ridge/north-northeast ridge; 1973, from the northeast Anderson Glacier and west ridge/north-northeast ridge; and 1996, as per the 1959 ascent. It had, however, never been climbed from the south. Martin LeRoux and Norm Greene left camp at 10 p.m. on July 9, ascending the south ridge from the Mt. Slaggard/“South Slaggard” col, carrying skis to a height of 4300 meters, 150 meters below the plateau from which it seems possible to ski to the summit cone and southwest ridge of Mt. Slaggard. The climb was abandoned at 4 a.m. on July 10 when the dawn sunlight hit the two feet of new snow lying very precariously on old crystalline, wind slab. Ominous settling sounds indicated that it was time to leave.

Some “microbumps” surrounding camp were also ascended as route finding viewpoints and/or entertainment: P.3690m, by a party of eight, to celebrate Canada Day (July 1); P.3650m, by a party of four, on July 11, on yet another snow day; P.3730m, by a party of four on July 3, as a “video experience” but really as a “wanding” trip, to scout a route to “West Slaggard II” (4210m), a large, very attractive snow mountain that remains unclimbed. But with four feet of new snow, the “trench warfare tactics” that would have been necessary to climb it were less attractive than enjoying gourmet meals in camp.

Roger Wallis

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