North America, United States, Alaska, Mt. Foresta, East Ridge to North Peak and Altitude Note

Publication Year: 2004.

Mt. Foresta, East Ridge to north peak and altitude note. On May 3, Erik Monasterio and I landed at 4,040' on the Hubbard Glacier, courtesy of Paul Swanstrom from Haines. Conditions were unusual, with crevasse lines extending into the glacier and a melt-freeze crust on the surface. We elected to tackle Mt. Foresta, aiming for the unclimbed north peak. This pointed summit is marked on the 1:250,000 map as the highest at 11,960' (3,645m). It is quite separate from the south peak (11,040', 3,365m), climbed by Fred Beckey’s party in 1979 and reportedly higher. There have been no further reported ascents of the mountain.

We climbed the East Ridge, which we joined at 6,400' (1,951m) via a shallow snow rib in a northeast-facing cwm. The snow in the cwm was wind-deposited and less stable than we wished. On the ridge itself large detached cornices over a sharp granite crest made for insecure climbing. We felt progressively more committed as we overcame numerous hidden obstacles, including steep rock steps and poorly bridged gaps in the cornice. After we had been six hours on the ridge, the going finally eased, and we made good progress on hard névé to a camp at 8,620' (2,635m). Similar conditions above led us, surprisingly quickly, to the summit on May 8. The GPS and altimeter read 10,960' (3,341m), exactly 1,000' below the map height. Visually, the south peak was a little higher, consistent with the 80' difference between its map height and our measured height.

In warmer conditions our descent was even more unnerving, with an unrelenting choice between the hanging cornice and the spiky granite edge. We camped near the top of the snow rib hoping for a freeze, but the weather deteriorated overnight. The snow in the cwm felt wet and poorly bonded. We descended without incident, but had to rely entirely on GPS waypoints to navigate back to base camp in what were rapidly becoming full storm conditions. A meter of snow fell on the glacier during the next 48 hours. After this we attempted to penetrate the ice- fall leading to the east rib of Mt. Vancouver, but found it essentially impassable. Its condition had worsened radically since my 1999 attempt to approach the same route.

Paul Knott, Alpine Club, New Zealand