American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Ruth Gorge, Mt. Deborah, Northwest Ridge, First Alpine-Style Ascent

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2000

Mt. Deborah, Northwest Ridge, First Alpine-Style Ascent. In May, during a relatively stable period of weather, Matt Porter and I flew into the head of the Yanert Glacier on the west side of Mt. Deborah. From the 6,200-foot landing area, we left a cache and traveled to the north icefall at the head of the glacier. This is referred to (appropriately) by Fred Beckey as the “Frozen Hurricane.” The icefall can be negotiated on the far north side with some climbing under loose blocks. This is one of the greatest objective hazards of the route. Once in the basin above, some route finding will bring you to the base of the route at 9,000 feet. The next morning, we left early and climbed over the bergschrund and ascended a 45- to 55-degree slope to the ridge. Once on the ridge, the climbing increased in intensity, and soon the ridge was climbed as low to the rock ridge as possible in order to stay off the cornices. Protection was good, and running belays made the climbing go fast. Once over the crux ridge section, the terrain backed off for the last 500 feet to the summit. This took eight hours to climb from the tent. Matt broke the summit cornice off (Not Recommended), and we began to rappel directly down the west face. After 20-some-odd rappels on a 100-meter rope, we were over the bergschrund and back in camp. We were climbing and descending for 15 hours total. The weather turned nasty on the summit and descending in the wind and increasing spindrift was a drag. We holed up the next day before descending through the Frozen Hurricane. We spent the next four days skiing and hiking out the Yanert Valley to the Parks Highway.

Mike Wood

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