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Fairweather Mountain : Living in the Clouds
Timestamp Free: 2020.10.25 - 13:25:23
Ranges: North America Ranges / Pacific Cordillera Range / Saint Elias Mountains / Fairweather Range
  (16 days)
Participants: David Henry, Rick Collier, Christine Grotefeld, Normand Begin, Manfred Czechak, Danielle Tardif, Jonathan Stanley, and David Mulligan. Expedition: expect bad weather at some point.
This trip report describes a 16 day expedition to the Mount Fairweather region including a climb of Fairweather.
Mount Fairweather
What would it be like to live in the clouds? I always thought it would be something like those Philadelphia cream cheese commercials, very heavenly. But in reality it would most likely be cold, wet, windy and very sterile. In all directions there would be nothing but white, no colour, no smells, no way to measure progress. There would be no difference between what is above you or what is below you; there would be no relief in site. You would probably go insane praying for the cloud to disappear.

It is amazing how similar living in the cloud is to climbing in the St. Elias Mountains, especially the southwest corner of the range. Sure, by living in Canada we all experience some measure of bad weather, but nothing can quite measure up to the low pressure systems which pound this region consistently. The Fairweather area can receive up to 180 inches of precipitation annually. Assuming that one inch of precipitation will make about one foot of snow, it is an understatement to say it snows a lot. But how else would you create the largest nonpolar icefield in the world and the highest number of surging glaciers in the world? In 1892 while watching the rain fall from his tent, geologist Harry F. Reid noted the following in his field journal:

"We have concluded that there are many infallible signs of rain in this region. If the sun shines, if the stars appear, if there are clouds or if there are none; these are all sure indications. If the barometer falls it will rain; if the barometer rises, it will rain; if the barometer remains steady, it will continue to rain."

One reason for the large amount of precipitation that falls on this region is the St. Elias Mountains' proximity to the Pacific Ocean. Mount Fairweather rises an impressive...

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