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

Mountaineering summary and statistics.

During the 2001 climbing season 42 mountaineering expeditions registered in Kluane National Park Reserve. A total of 163 persons spent 2,872 person-days in the Icefields. The weather was again typical of the St. Elias Range, “unpredictable.” Some expeditions hit it lucky and had few weather days, while others waited out long periods of poor weather. Avalanche conditions seemed to be greater than normal, with many teams reporting a very weak layer in the snowpack throughout the Icefields all season long. Some teams wisely decided to abort or change their planned routes because of this phenomenon.

As is the norm, most expeditions focused on Mt. Logan, though only the King Trench and East Ridge routes were attempted. Of the 23 expeditions on Mt. Logan, 11 reached one of the main summits (Main Peak, East Peak, or West Peak). Successful expeditions took from 13 to 24 days to reach a summit, depending on weather and the team’s abilities. Other mountains that had climbing activity included Queen Mary (six expeditions), Mt. Lucania-Steele (four), King Peak (two), Kennedy (one), Walsh (one), Vancouver (one), and Pinnacle (one). The Icefield Discovery Camp was in operation again; its location may be the reason that Mt. Queen Mary was a popular destination. Only four guided expeditions were in the Icefields. There were also three ski-tour expeditions into the St. Elias Range. Of note was a traverse of Mt. Logan— up the East Ridge and down the King Trench—by a keen crew from British Columbia. Another B.C. crew ski toured the St. Elias Range from Kluane Lake to Dry Bay, Alaska. And a B.C. couple was successful on both Mt. Logan and Denali this season.

Only one major search-and-rescue operation occurred. The incident involved the loss of Kurt Gloyer, one of the premier mountain pilots in the area, when his aircraft crashed upon take-off after picking up two climbers near Mt. Kennedy. The climbers survived the crash, in which the aircraft ended up 30 meters down a large crevasse, and were rescued the next day. Other incidents were of a lesser nature, such as frostbite and altitude sickness. In each case the climbing party was able to get itself to its base camp.

Scientists were also at work on the slopes of Mt. Logan. Because of the altitude and cold, Logans ice and snow have never melted. Glaciologists took ice cores from the Logan plateau and from these cores can obtain a history of the earth’s climate. The team established two camps, one on the Quintina Sella Glacier and the other near 5330m on the upper plateau.

Anyone interested in mountaineering in Kluane National Park Reserve should contact the Mountaineering Warden and ask for a mountaineering package. The Warden can be reached by mail (Kluane National Park, Box 5495, Haines Junction, Yukon, Canada, YOB 1LO), by phone (867-634-7279), or by fax (867-634-7277.) Information can also be obtained from the Kluane National Park website at http://www.parkscanada.pch.gc.ca/kluane.

Rick Staley, Mountaineering Warden, Kluane National Park Reserve