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North America, Canada, Yukon, Kluane National Park Reserve, St. Elias Range, Various Ascents

St. Elias Range, Various Ascents. On August 2, Tiffany Scrymgeour, Rafael Grana, Jon Webb, Chris Brick, Steve Sheriff, Kim Beatty, Brendan Beatty, Gray Thompson, Eloise Thompson, and I put on to the Tatshenshini River at Dalton Post, Yukon Territories. Our goal was to explore the glaciers and peaks of the St. Elias Range surrounding the Tatshenshini and lower Alsek Rivers.

Two days and 35 miles downstream, we cached our rafts and gear at the confluence of Sediments Creek and the “Tat,” where a popular side hike leads above timberline to “Goat Mountain” (a misnomer: it is actually the buttress between Sediments Creek and the next drainage to the north). From here we had an excellent view of Peak 2549 (or 8345'), the high point of this part of the Alsek Ranges. We dropped 1,500 feet onto the toe of “Little Alsek Glacier” in the drainage immediately to our north, which led directly to this peak. The next day we climbed it and christened it “Deak Peak.” The only difficulties were a section of broken glacier and some very loose 4th class rock scrambling on the ridge near the summit. The following day we returned to the river.

Two more days on the river found us another 50 miles downstream at Walker Glacier, a prominent glacier that reaches nearly to the river’s edge five miles south of the U.S.-Canadian border. We festered in classic Southeast Alaskan weather (rain with fog and wind) for four days. The river rose about ten vertical feet to 250,000 cubic feet per second, an 18-year high, probably due in part to a glacial dam breaking upstream and releasing the lake behind it.

When the weather cleared, we hiked four miles up the Walker Glacier, and the following day broke into groups: Rafael and Jon climbed the north glacier and west ridge of the 6,350- foot “Mt. Eloise” (IV 5.7,55° ice). Tiffany and I climbed to the plateau southeast of “Serratus Peak” (II 70° ice), then looped south of it to reach its 6,440-foot summit. Gray, Steve, and Chris climbed the west glacier of “Brickette Needle” (5,600'+). Mt. Eloise (referred to by river guides as “Third Peak”) and Serratus Peak are prominent landmarks from the river on the south side of the Walker Glacier. Brickette Needle is immediately across the Walker Glacier from Mt. Eloise.

Back on the river, we floated past and missed the upper Brabazon Range. Instead, we floated down-river to Alsek Lake, a five-mile by three-mile lake with the toes of three glaciers calving into it and icebergs floating on its surface. We scouted access to some peaks via the glaciers in this area, but the broken glaciers, long approaches, and several more days of poor weather discouraged us from attempting any others. I did manage, however, to race to the top of a nunatak (elev. 2,200'+) two miles from the snout of Alsek Glacier at the lake.

We floated to Dry Bay, the exit of the river, and were flown out on August 24 by Gulf Air.

Jim Earl, unaffiliated