American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Denali National Park, Mt. Foraker, Southeast Ridge, Winter Ascent

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2002

Mt. Foraker, southeast ridge, winter ascent. On the morning of February 8 I departed base camp (6,550') on the southwest fork of the Kahiltna Glacier. I made Camp I at 6,400 feet below the base of the southeast ridge in the evening. My route began at the middle of the base of the southeast toe. I carried loads from 6,400 feet up the toe to 8,100 feet and made my first snow cave (Camp II) on February 18. I knew that even a few inches of new snow on the avalanche slopes ahead would prevent me from making the climb. I traversed quickly through this area between 8,800 feet and 9,250 feet, which is safe, with stable snow conditions. On February 23 I moved camp up to a snow cave at 9,780 feet (Camp III) on the southwest side of the ridge. The snow cave took four and a half hours to construct. Eleven days of continual storm kept me in the cave. I made Camp IV at 11,300 feet, between blue ice and cornices, on March 17. On March 21 I moved camp up to 13,200 feet (Camp V, snow cave). This highest camp was one hour from the base of the ridge, so on March 23 I broke trail to the base of the ridge to facilitate my summit attempt. On day 46, March 24, I attempted to reach the summit but stopped at 13,900 feet because of high wind. Four days of storm kept me in the snow shelter. On day 53, March 31, I departed high camp at 7:35 a.m., arrived on the summit at 2:34 p.m., and was back in high camp at 7:10 p.m. I stayed on the very peak for only seven minutes. The conditions were blizzard, strong northwest wind, and a temperature of -20°. On the summit day I covered approximately 4,200 feet, with knife edges, cornices, and a 30- to 40-degree slope on the final 3,000- foot climb. Crevasses were obvious, so I traveled without poles. On April 5 I departed high camp in the morning, after three days of storm. On day 66, April 13, I arrived in base camp in the afternoon.

Masatoshi Kuriaki, Japan

This AAJ article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.