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Mount Steele - North Ridge
Timestamp Free: 2017.12.13 - 15:13:53
Ranges: North America Ranges / Pacific Cordillera Range / Saint Elias Mountains / Icefield Ranges
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This is the fifth part of "Millar's High Life Traverse". For the most part, the difficulties in this route are the approach. Our ascent of the N Ridge was the first.

After descending from NW Steele into "The Gap", the crux of the traverse is reached. "The Gap" is a 1-km long knife-edged and corniced ridge at about 3700m. It is the lowest point on the 22-km long ridge between Wood and Steele. On either side of the Gap is atleast 1000m of steep, avalanche-prone, and ice-cliffed face. Having to escape from the Gap would be a serious undertaking. Camps in the Gap are sparce and exposed.

Upon reaching the Gap from NW Steele, the crux is encountered immediately [342 775]. A diabolic section of ridge lies ahead; 80-degrees on one side, overhanging cornice on the other. We decided to descend under the W side of the ridge. This involved downclimbing 50-55 degree snow, traversing 45-degree snow, steenning to 60-degrees and becoming more exposed and avalanche-prone. Then ascending 55 degrees before the crux pitch of the Traverse: a 100-m long 60-70 degree ice pitch. Gaining this, continue along the ridge to reach a series of corninces resembling Cobras. Deceivingly, the crux is the first (smallest) one. Crossing it involves a 30-m traverse of a cornice on a cornice: Extremely fragile. Much exposure too. From there, the other cornices are gained with less difficulty. [photo]StEliasCampCrevasse.jpg[caption]Taking shelter is a scoop high on the North Ridge. Mt. Wood behind.[/photo]

Beyond the cobras, the North Ridge begins to rise towards Steele. Easy slopes are climbed to a shoulder where the climbing intensified again. Complex traversing through narrow ridge sections and ice blocks leads to the uper half of the ridge, which is all 40 degrees or less and quite simple....

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