American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States and Canada, Good Neighbor Peak, Southeast Ridge and Clarification; Mt. Vancouver, St. Elias Range, Alaska and Canada

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2004

Good Neighbor Peak, southeast ridge and clarification; Mt. Vancouver, St. Elias Range, Alaska and Canada. Paul Barry and I climbed a new route on the southeast face of Good Neighbor Peak (15,700') during May 18-21. We also completed the two-mile traverse to the higher summit of Mt. Vancouver (15,787') before descending our route. Ours was the fifth ascent of Good Neighbor Peak and the sixth of Mt. Vancouver. Only the 1967 Centennial expedition had reported climbing both peaks. Our southeast ridge route on Good Neighbor (Alaska Grade 3) is bounded on the left by the 1967 Centennial (south-southeast) Rib and the 1979 East Buttress route on the right. All three routes are visible in the Bradford Washburn photograph highlighting the adjacent South Spur (AAJ1994, p. 88). Further research identified a similar Washburn photograph from the 1992 Canadian Alpine Journal (p. 13) that incorrectly labeled our then-unclimbed route as the Centennial Rib, confirmed by articles in the 1968 AAJ and Expedition Yukon, published in 1972. The traverse between Good Neighbor Peak and Mt. Vancouver is best seen in a Washburn photograph in the 1978 AAJ (p. 544).

Paul Claus of Ultima Thule Outfitters landed us one mile south of our ridge at 7,800' on the Valerie Glacier (Alaska) on May 17. The next morning, Paul and I cached our skis in the bergshrund at 9,300' and started climbing east-facing snow slopes to gain our ridge. Four pitches of 50° snow led to the knife-edge crest that we followed for two pitches to the base of a prominent red rock pyramid at 10,000'. This start avoided difficult rock lower down, where the ridge spine meets the glacier. We belayed three rotten class 5 pitches, then scrambled to the top of a small snow dome, at 10,650' atop the rock pyramid, where we camped after 11 hours of climbing. The next morning we descended steeply for 100' to a col. Above, four pitches of 45° snow led to a two-pitch knife-edge ice ridge, all of which we protected with running belays using pickets and ice screws. At 11,100' our rocky ridge blended into the glaciated upper southeast face. Technical terrain transitioned to post-holing through knee-to- thigh-deep snow until monstrous crevasses forced a 1/2-mile traverse west toward the Centennial Route. We wallowed an ascending trough up and left, intersecting the Centennial Route at 13,700', placing our second and final camp at 14,300' just below the crest of the east buttress after 10 hours of climbing. Paul and I left camp at 8 a.m. the following morning and made a descending traverse into the prominent 14,100' col on the east buttress proper. We simul-climbed the final exposed 1,500' to Good Neighbor Peak, bypassing most technical difficulties on the north, reaching the summit at noon and crossing into Canada. The two-mile ridge to Mt. Vancouver was interrupted by three intermediate summits, the last of which proved the most difficult, with its exposed knife-edge ridge. At 5:30 p.m. Paul and I stood atop Canada’s Mt. Vancouver, becoming its first visitors in 26 years. Six hours of careful downclimbing found us back at high camp, completing our 15-hour day. Our fourth and final day was spent descending to base camp, rappelling most of the ridge below 11,100'. Paul Claus returned for us on May 27 to shuttle us 50 miles north to Canada’s King Peak (16,995'), where we made our third unsuccessful attempt in three years.

Dave Hart, AAC

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

Comments