AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

North America, Canada, St. Elias Range, Kluane National Park Reserve, Mountaineering Summary and Statistics, 2000

Mountaineering Summary and Statistics, 2000. During the 2000 mountaineering season, 172 people comprised 45 separate expeditions within Kluane’s Icefield Ranges. These parties spent a total of 2,790 person-days in the park. In spite of significant weather delays at the start of many expeditions, only one party was forced to cancel their mountaineering plans, although other groups modified their objectives somewhat due to time constraints. The weather this season was characterized by considerable unsettled periods, without the extended period of clear conditions that often occurs during the spring mountaineering season.

Mount Logan continued to be the most popular objective this season, with more than 65 percent of mountaineers spending time on it. Attention was divided almost equally between the King Trench and the East Ridge routes. Climbers on the East Ridge reported excellent conditions. Although crevasses above the headwall on the King Trench route presented challenges for expeditions, the difficulties were surmountable. There was also some interest in the south side of the mountain, where a Swiss team repeated the Thunderbird Variation of the Hummingbird Ridge (see below) and another party made an unsuccessful attempt of an unclimbed ridge on Logan’s southeast face.

There were a number of notable achievements on Mount Logan in 2000. The first party to reach the main summit achieved more than just a millennium first. Sixteen-year-old Jesse Terry became the youngest mountaineer to have stood on top of Canada. Shortly thereafter, another team assisted blind mountaineer Ross Watson in reaching the west summit of the mountain.

Parks Canada also maintained a presence on Mount Logan this season. National park wardens representing four different mountain rescue operations participated in a combined training expedition and patrol of the King Trench route. They successfully communicated with several expeditions, assessed the route for garbage problems, and placed members of the team on both the west and main summits of the mountain.

While there were no search and rescue operations required in the Kluane this season, there were minor problems with frostbite, crevasse falls, and medical illnesses. In April, park wardens observed a body along an exposed section of the Hummingbird Ridge. Recovery and identification were not attempted; the body was not visible during a subsequent reconnaissance of the site. The location is near where David Cheesmond and Catherine Freer had placed fixed line and a tent during their 1987 attempt of the route.

Satellite systems have continued to be the most effective means of communication for expeditions within the icefields. Although the Iridium system is now defunct, the new Globalstar system has performed well in our area. The prevalence of satellite communications can be both a blessing and a curse. While they are very useful for obtaining assistance when confronted with an emergency situation, they also allow parties to easily call for a rescue before attempting to solve the difficulty by themselves. We remind all mountaineers planning a trip to Kluane of the need for self-reliance in the high elevation and remote icefield areas.

The presence of significant amounts of fixed line on the East Ridge of Mount Logan continues to be a concern. While a quantity was removed this season by one expedition, large amounts still remain. We encourage all parties on the route to be diligent in removing ropes at the end of their expedition. Garbage problems were also an issue on Mount Logan this season. We remind mountaineers that leaving trash behind may result in prosecution under the National Parks Act, and may result in additional restrictions and fees being imposed on expeditions in future years. It is also worth noting that problems with ravens uncovering food caches have occurred recently. This has been a major problem in Denali National Park for years, and we remind groups to bury all caches and mark them with tall wands.

All parties interested in mountaineering in Kluane can request a registration package from the mountaineering warden: Kluane National Park, Box 5495, Haines Junction, Yukon, Canada, YOB 1L0, Tel: 867-634-7279, Fax: 867-634-7277. Information is also available on the Internet: http://www.harbour.com/parkscan/kluane/adventure/mountaineering/climb.htm

Steve Michel, Park Warden, Kluane National Park Reserve