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McKinley West Buttress Route (July 1978)
Timestamp Free: 2020.02.17 - 17:57:30
Ranges: North America Ranges / Alaska Ranges
  (14 days)
Participants: John Toms, Robin Tivy, Len Potter, Chris Kubinski, John Hugman, Craig Parfett Some crevasses, steep snow headwall, high altitude
A brief summary of the route up the West Buttress
These notes are based on our trip there in 1978, organized by the late John Toms. We took cross country skis which we only used to 10,500 feet, then doubleboots with crampons. We had the heavy required radio, but it didn't work.

We flew to Anchorage, took the train from Anchorage to Talkeetna, then flew into the mountain using the ski plane service of Jim Sharpe. There were two planes in service, and we were on the glacier by June 28, 1978, 11:00 PM. (A wheeled plane with an aluminium ski attachment.) Plane landed on the glacier at the standard landing strip area on the SE fork of Kahiltna Glacier at about 7000'. There were about 4 other parties there. Next day, we relayed loads pulling sleds half way up the Kahiltna Glacier, to about 9000', then returned to camp. Next day the same thing. No serious crevasses on way up, but on way down 2 weeks later there were some big ones. Eventually we established camp II at 10,500' 3050m. We call this Kahiltna Camp. See Waypoints. Next day relayed gear up. Next 2 days a big storm.

From here the route turns east. Note this is the next glacier north of the Northeast Fork. Here the slopes were steep, and we carried our skis on our packs up steepest part. Mostly plodding up steep snow, no risk of falling. We established Camp III at 12500' (3810m). Stayed there 2 days, relaying loads up to the big campsite above Windy Corner (Camp IV at 14,500' (4420m). Here we left our skis.

Next two days relayed loads to our Camp IV at 14400' 4420m, which I'll call West Buttress Camp. It is here I first started to notice the elevation. At this camp there were 2 other parties, and lots of extra gear abandoned in the snow. Next day we relayed loads up to the top of the W Buttress. The west buttress is a steep snow slope about 45 or 50 degrees....

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