University Peak, south face skiing. Shortly after the above ascent and ski descent, on April 18, Brad Barlage and Dave Hanning climbed high on the south face and descended on skis. Barlage turned around about 1,000 feet from the summit and skied the face from 13,780 feet. Hanning reached about 14,300 feet. After nearly disastrous attempts to ski from higher, he down climbed to the ledge from which Barlage started and skied from there. Hanning writes, “However, the face itself still has not seen a summit. This jewel will shine brightly among the many in the University Range of the Wrangell-St. Elias Mountains until someone comes to claim her.” The team skied many chutes in the area as well, and ski-toured in the western Wrangells.
On May 13 the husband-and-wife team of John Chilton and Lisa Korthals also climbed high on this face and skied down. Photographer Blake Jorgensen and Chris Korthals, Lisa’s brother, who served as a safety guide for Blake, were also on the trip but did not ski the face. Chilton and Lisa Korthals reached a high point of about 13,500 feet. Writes Chilton, “It seems both the previous descent parties climbed and skied the climber’s left side of the face. Being two weeks later in the year, with the sun packing more punch everyday, we felt there were more threatening objective hazards on the left side and elected to tackle the face from the climber’s right side. During our descent slides scoured the left side three times. I read my inclinometer eight times that day, and every time it was between 48 and 52 degrees, for over 7,000 vertical feet.” Both parties experienced frigid nighttime temperatures but observed considerable solar warming of the snow during the day.
Based on reports from John Chilton, Brad Barlage*, AAC, and Dave Hanning*, AAC
* recipients of an AAC/Helly Hansen Adventure grant