British first ascent on Alaska's Mt Geist

Posted by Lindsay Griffin on 11/06/2011
North East Face Direct, Mt Geist. Guy Wilson

Although unseasonable snowfall in Alaska's Hayes Range prevented them getting to grips with their original objectives, at the '11th hour' Neil Warren and Guy Wilson snatched a possible first ascent of the North East Face Direct on Mt Geist (3,268m).

Supported by grants from the BMC, MEF, Alpine Club and a Berghaus Adventure Challenge award, Warren and Wilson, together with third team member Chris Johnson, flew into the Hayes Glacier at the end of April.

Before leaving the UK their main goal had been the first ascent of the West Ridge of Mt Hayes. But on arrival, and after discussing their aims with local climbers, they discovered the West Ridge had been climbed in the 1970s.

This situation is not atypical of the region, where a number of first ascents by local climbers have gone unreported, allowing subsequent parties the pleasure of making "second first ascents".

The British team decided to stick with its plan but were unsuccessful on the ridge. Instead they investigated several ski descents and climbed two neighbouring mountains.

The first was Skarland (3,145m), which they climbed by the South East Ridge. Though not steep, it proved slightly precarious due to poor snow. The three had hoped to ski from the summit but at c2,800m met hard ice and decided to leave the skis at this point and climb to the top. Subsequently, the ski descent from 2,800m was superb.

Skarland's South East Ridge was first climbed in April 1976 on the second ascent of this fine pointed snow peak by Americans Dave Davis, Dakers Gowans and Keith Hansen.

Just before their leaving date, Warren and Wilson climbed a direct route through the mixed rocky section of Geist's North East Face.

This face has been climbed several times, though the only references point to a line up the obvious snow slope/couloir towards the left side, originally climbed in May 1974 by Dusan Jagersky and Bill Sumner to make the first ascent of the mountain.

Warren and Wilson completed the 1,000m face and descent of the North Ridge in a single-push round trip of 22 hours from camp.

The ascent involved good 55-60° névé, tricky mixed climbing through rotten schist, sections of ice, and some of the steepest snow the pair have encountered. Protection and belays were often poor.

Once on the summit ridge they were met with a scary traverse over and around cornices, a little 'a cheval' and nothing in the way of protection before reaching the summit - very similar conditions to those experienced by the 1974 party. The overall grade of the ascent was considered to be TD+.

They rappelled the North Ridge from a mixture of snow bollards and Abalakovs. The verdict? "One litre of water just isn't enough; next time we''ll take a stove".

The following day they were flown out to Fairbanks.
 



« Back

Post a comment Print this article

This article has been read 1042 times

TAGS

Click on the tags to explore more

RELATED ARTICLES

Photo story: adventure on Baffin Island
0
Photo story: adventure on Baffin Island

This summer, Jacob Cook and his wife Bronwyn Hodgins, along with friends Thor Stewart and Zack Goldberg-Poch, spent 35 days in Auyuittuq National Park on Baffin Island, where they established first ascents, repeated some long, existing routes and gave something special back to the local Inuit children: a climbing lesson.
Read more »

Apply for a BMC expedition grant
1
Apply for a BMC expedition grant

An introduction to BMC and MEF mountaineering grants.
Read more »

How to: find an unclimbed mountain
0
How to: find an unclimbed mountain

Dreaming of summit glory? You're in luck: there are still many unclimbed mountains out there. All that stands between you and a victorious summit pose is some research, as Tim Moss explains.
Read more »

Post a Comment

Posting as Anonymous Community Standards
3000 characters remaining
Submit
Your comment has been posted below, click here to view it
Comments are currently on | Turn off comments
0

There are currently no comments, why not add your own?

RELATED ARTICLES

Photo story: adventure on Baffin Island
0

This summer, Jacob Cook and his wife Bronwyn Hodgins, along with friends Thor Stewart and Zack Goldberg-Poch, spent 35 days in Auyuittuq National Park on Baffin Island, where they established first ascents, repeated some long, existing routes and gave something special back to the local Inuit children: a climbing lesson.
Read more »

Apply for a BMC expedition grant
1

An introduction to BMC and MEF mountaineering grants.
Read more »

How to: find an unclimbed mountain
0

Dreaming of summit glory? You're in luck: there are still many unclimbed mountains out there. All that stands between you and a victorious summit pose is some research, as Tim Moss explains.
Read more »

BMC MEMBERSHIP
Join 82,000 BMC members and support British climbing, walking and mountaineering. Membership only £16.97.
Read more »
BMC SHOP
Great range of guidebooks, DVDs, books, calendars and maps.
All with discounts for members.
Read more »
TRAVEL INSURANCE
Get covered with BMC Insurance. Our five policies take you from the beach to Everest.
Read more »