American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Alaska Wrangell Mountains, Peaks 10,320' and 9,110', Possible First Ascents

  • Climbs And Expeditions
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  • Publication Year: 2006

Peaks 10,320' and 9,110', possible first ascents.

On May 14 Cory Hinds, James Dietzmann, and I drove from Anchorage to Chitina to meet Kelly Bay of Wrangell Mountain Air.

After being flown in, we hiked west along the Chitina Glacier to reach a camp at 2,600' near the Ram Glacier’s terminal moraine.

Two hard days later, we reached base camp at 5,650', near a western fork of the main glacier.

At 5:00 a.m. on May 19 we headed off for reconnaissance. We turned our attention to a 10,320' peak, on the north side of the glacier, with two nice lines on the south face. A thin couloir broke right of the summit and a broader snow ramp farther right led to a saddle about a mile east of the summit. We opted to try the snow ramp, since it might offer safer avalanche conditions because of rock outcrops.

The bottom of the 30-35° snow ramp was littered with avalanche debris, and we post holed through the debris on snowshoes. A few hundred feet below the crest we donned crampons. The ridge was exposed, with a mixture of broken rock and knife-edge snow and the occasional cornice. There was a 30' tower of loose and broken rock midway along the ridge. Once over the tower, we traversed a corniced ridge to the base of the summit pyramid and belayed a couple of pitches. We crossed a narrow notch, broke through a small cornice, and continued up a short mixed section to a rock outcropthat afforded a belay. We unroped for the final slopes. Exposed traversing and another short mixed section led to the final icy traverse and, finally, we reached the summit and enjoyed awesome views. Mountains everywhere.

Before long we were back in camp looking back up at the summit—our recon turned out to be 15½ hours and over 5,000' of elevation gain.

The weather then turned and kept us in camp for a couple of days, and on May 22 we started down. We struggled back down the rock-covered glacier onto solid ground, and the next day finished the hike to Huberts Landing and set up camp on the huge gravel plain near the airstrip.

From this camp, on May 24, Cory and James got a 3:00 a.m. start to try Pk. 9,110'. James turned around at 7,950', but Cory kept going and summited via the south-southwest ridge and face. Hubert’s sits at around 2,150', so it was a 7,000' elevation gain from camp. On their descent, they surprised a large boar grizzly that had sprawled out across a tiny knoll to sleep the afternoon away. They said he looked up a couple times, but paid them no attention. They said he looked like a big dog stretched out snoozing the day away.

On May 25 Kelly was right on time to pick us up. He got us all on one flight, and we enjoyed sightseeing on our flight back to civilization. It is possible that our climbs of Peaks 10,320' and 9,110' were both first ascents of the peaks.

Danny Kost, AAC

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