American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Alaska Range, Mount McKinley, Japanese Couloir, Trash Clean-Up

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1997

Mount McKinley, Japanese Couloir, Trash Clean-Up. Over a period of three days in June, National Park Service Mountaineering Ranger Joe Reichert and two volunteers, Jeff Evans and Max Lyon*, removed abandoned ropes and gear from the Japanese Couloir section of the Cassin Ridge. Over the years rope has been left in the couloir both as fixed line and as the result of hasty retreats. I had received reports from climbers of large "rat's nests" of rope complete with loops and tails protruding form the ice along the length of the gully. Even after the descriptions, we were amazed at the sheer volume of trash left behind, much from the 1970s but also more than expected from "modern" alpinists.

We removed approximately 200 pounds of rubbish from the couloir and the Cassin Ledge. We left the bundled trash on our tent platform at the base of the couloir to retrieve it as a training exercise with the Llama rescue helicopter. Our goal was to leave the area as clean as it had once been; unfortunately, three days and six forearms were not enough to complete the task. There remains a considerable amount of rope encased in the ice. Please read this as another call to travel responsibly in our wild places: Pack out what you pack in.

Joe Reichert, National Park Service Mountaineering Ranger

*Killed in early winter, 1997, in an avalanche accident.

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