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

North America, United States, Alaska, Wrangell-St. Elias Range, Mt. Leeper, Ascent

Mt. Leeper, Ascent. On May 13, Art Weiner and I were flown into the upper Yahtse Glacier at around 4,700 feet by Paul Claus of Ultima Thule Outfitters. As we flew in, Paul mentioned that in 1993, he had landed in his Super Cub high in a bowl on the north side of Mt. Leeper (9,603'). But Art and I were here to try to be the first to climb this peak, which is only 15 miles or so from the Gulf of Alaska. The Yahtse Glacier flows southeast from Barkley Ridge and into Icy Bay, so this region is constantly threatened by storms and high winds and receives an unusually high amount of precipitation.

We immediately moved up the glacier to around 5,600 feet and set up our first camp under Leeper’s north face. The next day we skied through the icefall and established high camp at around 6,700 feet on the northwest ridge. We were southeast of the rocky pyramid of Pt.7072'. On May 15, we skied up the northwest ridge to around 9,100 feet, where we were forced to kick off our skis. A huge serac that splits the ridge and separates it from the summit forced us to the left. From here we kicked steps up the ridge and walked onto the summit in the early afternoon. Throughout our climb we were hit by increasing winds, which forced an abbreviated stay on the summit. We hurried down safely back to camp before a storm closed in behind us. Six of the next seven days were spent in the tent due to high winds, snow and whiteout conditions. We did get two brief stretches that allowed us to get back to our landing area and food cache, where we were picked up only one day later than scheduled on the 23rd. This may have been the first ascent of Mt. Leeper, but only time will tell.

Danny W. Kost