American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Nutzotin Mountains, Peak 8,500'+, Possible First Ascent

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2007

Peak 8,500'+, possible first ascent. On July 27 Don Welty of Wrangell Mountain Air flew me to the Horsfeld Airstrip along Beaver Creek, near the Canadian border at the northeastern boundary of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. My objective was a solo high mountain traverse of the Nutzotin Mountains from Horsfeld to Chisana and then on to Nabesna. However, the weather did not cooperate.

It was raining hard when we landed at Horsfeld, and a local outfitter, Dick Petersen, invited me down to his camp. The area streams are known for their grayling fishing, and it was a great chance to talk with Dick, who provided a wealth of knowledge about the local mountains. I finally packed up and headed off across the tundra, encountering a lone wolf as I ascended Klein Creek later that afternoon in drizzling rain.

It took 2½ days reach the small glacier atop Klein Creek. I set up camp at roughly 6,200' near a cluster of small lakes and checked out the 8,200' pass that accesses the upper Carl Creek Glacier. Then I traversed south to access a short snow/ice ramp leading up the east side of Peak 8,500'+, which borders the south side of the pass. A few hundred feet of climbing saw me on the summit.

I had hoped to spend several days in this high camp and climb several of the higher peaks. However, the weather changed that night and it rained and snowed for a couple of days, forcing me to abandon my original plans. I retraced my steps down Klein Creek and then hiked up the Beaver Creek drainage.

Although I only got in one climb during my ten-day solo adventure, it was a joy to be alone in the wilderness again. I try to keep up on the climbing history in the Wrangell-St. Elias region, and this may have been the first ascent of the peak. Dick Petersen has climbed a handful of the peaks in this region, and two other peaks to the east were climbed by a couple in 1972. However, a lot of climbs and adventures in Alaska go unreported.

Danny Kost, Alaska Section, AAC

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