Mountaineering Summary and Statistics, 1998. This year there were 42 expeditions comprising 163 people within the icefields of Kluane. This is a slight increase in numbers from last year. The maximum number of climbers in a single season was 186 people in 1992.
There were 24 expeditions and 105 people on Mt. Logan this year, representing 64% of the people in the icefields. The King Trench route, on the west side of the mountain, saw 13 expeditions and 70 people; the East Ridge had 11 expeditions and 35 people. No significant attempts were made on other routes on Mt. Logan. Once again, large crevasses on the King Trench route above 15,000 feet created some route-finding challenges, but apparently not as troublesome as in 1997. A solo traverse was accomplished this year of Mt. Logan from the East Ridge to the King Trench by Martin Minarek, a tenacious Czech climber.
Other mountains that were attempted included Mt. Kennedy, Mt. Hubbard, Pinnacle Peak, Mt. Wood, McArthur Peak, Mt. Queen Mary, Mt. King George, Mt. Lucania, Mt. Macauley, Mt. Steele and Mt. Walsh. An interesting high-line traverse was accomplished from Mt. Wood to Mt. Steele, taking in Mt. Macauly, by a group of five in August (see below).
The weather during the first half of the season, from mid-April to early June, was rather bad. High winds and consistent precipitation aggravated most expeditions during this time. The usual period of clear, stable weather that settles into the Icefield ranges during the late spring was kept out by a series of low-pressure systems from the Gulf of Alaska. Many groups reported extended tent-bound stays.
There were two significant search-and-rescue operations this year. One climber became disoriented on attempting to exit the icefields via the Kaskawulsh Glacier and Slims Valley. A two-day helicopter search located him, unhurt but heading away from his intended destination. Two climbers on the King Trench route were reported overdue and probably out of food and fuel by their aircraft pilot. Five days after their expected completion date, the weather cleared up enough for a helicopter search of the area. The pair were located at 16,500 feet on the route. Food, fuel and a radio was dropped to them and they managed to descend without any further assistance. One of the climbers sustained a substantial frostbite injury to his hands during their day to the summit. He subsequently was treated in an Anchorage hospital and lost tissue from several fingers.
Anyone interested in climbing within Kluane should contact: Mountaineering Warden, Kluane National Park Reserve, Box 5495, Haines Junction, Yukon, Canada Y0B 1L0, or call (867) 634-7279, or fax (867) 634-7277, and ask for a mountaineering registration package.
Andrew Lawrence, Park Warden