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North America, Canada, Kluane National Park Reserve, Mountaineering Summary and Statistics, 1999

Mountaineering Summary and Statistics, 1999. This year, even with the unusual weather conditions, there were 46 climbing expeditions comprised of 176 people that accrued some 3,005 person-days within the Icefields of Kluane. Overall, this was one of the busiest years on record for the Icefields.

There were 31 expeditions and 107 people on Mt. Logan this year, representing 61 percent of the persons in the Icefields. The King Trench Route (standard route) saw 18 expeditions and 65 people; the East Ridge had ten expeditions and 35 people. Other routes on Mt. Logan attempted this year were the Catenary Ridge, South Face and Hummingbird Ridge. Nine expeditions were successful to either the East or West peak of the mountain, putting the success rate at 30 percent for all expeditions on the mountain. Once again, climbers reported some large crevasses opening up on the upper King Trench Route above 15,000 feet, but these posed no major problems.

The major complaint this year was the weather. Storms forced long delays in getting in or out of the Icefields. Temperatures into the -40°s were common in May and some frostbite problems were reported. On the positive side, there were no search-and-rescue operations or fatalities within the Icefields, although some falls into crevasses were reported.

Other mountains that were attempted included Lucania, Steele, Kennedy, Queen Mary, Vancouver, Seattle, McCaulay, King Peak, Walsh, Pinnacle, Hubbard, Augusta and Mt. Baird. Interesting climbs included a believed first ascent of Mt. Seattle to North Peak (see above), and a route up the Northwest Ridge of King Peak.

A new activity within the Icefields this year was the establishment of the Icefield Discovery Lodge in the Divide area near Mt. Queen Mary. This camp is a trial commercial venture to allow more people to experience the true heart of Kluane National Park: the Icefields. Approximately 35 people flew into the area during the summer and spent at least one night in a comfortable heated camp on the glacier.

Park wardens spent some time in the King Trench area this summer monitoring use. Some of the climbers contacted expressed concern over latrines and human waste, especially at King Trench Base Camp and Camp I. Wardens noticed that the lower King Trench Route gets excessively wanded by the end of the summer as most parties do not remove wands upon completion of their trip. The onus seems to be left to the last team on the mountain. One group on a late season trip on the East Ridge of Mt. Logan reported quite a bit of older fixed line surfacing on parts of the route.

Of note is the use of satellite technology. More climbers are showing up using GPS units for navigation in the Icefields. And the satellite phone, especially the Iridium phone, seems to work very well in this environment and is a great improvement over the heavy HF radio system.

Anyone interested in climbing within Kluane should contact Mountaineering Warden/Kluane National Park/Box 5495/Haines Junction/Yukon, Canada, YOB 1LO or visit the Kluane National Park web site at http://www.harbour.com/parkscan/kluane/climb.htm for a mountaineering registration package.

Rick Staley, Mountaineering Warden, Kluane National Park Reserve