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North America, United States, Alaska, Alaska Range, Little Switzerland, Crown and Dix Glaciers, Various First Ascents

Little Switzerland, Crown and Dix Glaciers, Various First Ascents. After being airlifted by Talkeetna Air Taxi director Paul Roderick onto the previously unnamed glacier (now proposed as the East Fork of the Crown) southeast of The Crown Jewel, British climbers Brian Davison, Lindsay Griffin, and Brian Griffiths spent May 1–31 making a total of 14 probable first ascents. Eleven of these (the exceptions being the Crown Jewel twice and Your Highness) were of previously unclimbed peaks. From a base camp on the East Fork the team climbed the following: The Crown Jewel (2362m) via the East Ridge; The Crown Jewel via the South Couloir to the West Ridge; The First Witch’s Hat (a.k.a. Southwest Hat, 1950m) via the West Face; the Second Witch’s Hat (1950m+) via the West Face and South Ridge; the Third Witch’s Hat (a.k.a. the Northeast Hat, 1980m) via the West Face, East Flank and South Face; The Tiara’s East Summit (2225m) via the South Couloir and East Ridge to the base of the final three-meter monolith; Your Highness (2425m) via the South Couloir toward the broad col between this peak and Lady in Waiting (2190m), then the Southwest Ridge; the North Summit of The Coronet (2075m) via the South-Southeast Flank.

From a temporary camp on the southerly Dix Glacier, various easier peaks (Beartrack, 1830m; Merry, 1390m; Lookout, 1525m) closer to the Kahiltna Glacier were climbed, together with the fine trio of Deception ( 1960m), Arrowhead (1800m), and Misty (1830m)—peaks above the Brume Glacier (southeast of the Dix). Also climbed were a couple of minor tops on crests, Gendarme (2190m, just east of The Crown Jewel) and Pt. Pico (1950m, just south of The Coronet on the same ridge). All names are provisional.

The climbers originally hoped that at this time of year they might find ephemeral ice lines in south-facing couloirs. However, very heavy snowfall a few weeks prior to their arrival had left the spiky granite peaks that characterize this area very well plastered. Although on some routes there were sections of interesting and enjoyable “Scottish mixed” ground, deep and worryingly unconsolidated snow leading to narrow, ungradeable, Peruvian-type ridges was the norm. Overall, the three climbers felt conditions to be as consistently bad as they had experienced anywhere. However, the weather, remarkably settled and sunny for a good portion of the time, was much less cold and harsh than on the bigger mountains to the north. Temperatures only fell as low as -20°C early in the month, but toward the end were considerably higher.

Lindsay Griffin, United Kingdom