American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Wrangell-St. Elias Range, Mt. Bona, St. Elias Mountains

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1999

Mt. Bona, St. Elias Mountains. On May 27, Paul Claus flew AAC members Steve Malmberg, George Rodway, Dan Vogt, and I to 10,500 feet on the upper Klutlan Glacier, just south of the Bona-Churchill plateau, to attempt Mt. Bona (16,421'). Our original plan was to place two camps at 12,700 feet and 14,300 feet respectively. Due to one week of bad weather and six to eight feet of new snow, we began to run out of time and made the decision to place just one camp at 12,700 feet and go for the top in one long day. George Rodway remained in Base Camp nursing a gallbladder infection with painkillers and antibiotics. On June 1, the weather cleared up temporarily, and we began the move up to occupy Camp I. Lenticular clouds soon moved in and it snowed several feet the next day. Finally, June 3 dawned clear and calm and we climbed via the knife-edge summit ridge of Churchill’s Chin (14,916'), reaching the summit of Mt. Bona at about 3 p.m. All three of us fell into hidden crevasses on the east summit ridge. We returned to Camp I and descended to Base Camp in a whiteout the next day. We were flown out on June 6. We encountered two other teams on the mountain, a party of three Germans and a two-person American team. Both parties bailed off the mountain early due to the horrendous weather.

Dave Paisley

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