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First Ascent of Mount Hubbard and Alverstone
Timestamp Free: 2020.09.19 - 04:57:18
Ranges: North America Ranges / Pacific Cordillera Range / Saint Elias Mountains / Icefield Ranges
  (11 days)
Participants: Nicholas Clifford, Walter Wood, Peter Wood, Robert Bates
Difficulty: 3: Steep snow, three icefalls.
Description of first ascent of Hubbard and Alverstone, and tragic loss of Walter Wood's wife and daughter in the Arctic Institute's Norseman aircraft.
The climb of Hubbard and Alverstone was an offshoot of the third expedition to the St. Elias by the Arctic Institute of North America in the summer of 1951, under the direction of Col. Walter Wood. With the help of the expedition's Norseman, a base camp was set up at 6000' on the glacier below the mountain (now the Cathedral Glacier, I think), but then storms and weather delays meant that some members of the original climbing party had to leave, duties calling them home.

Thus in the end it was Walter and Peter Wood, Robert Bates and I who started up the mountain on 25 July. There was a relatively easy climb through the first icefall that day; a rather stiffer one the next day, through the second and third icefalls to a high camp at roughly 13,000, in the Hubbard-Alverstone saddle. On the 27th, after a climb over hard steep snow in perfect condition, we stood on the top of Hubbard, with all the summits of the St. Elias clearly visible, rising out of a thick blanket of cloud that lay at about 8000'. On the 28th the weather was closing in, but we made our way through clouds and a worsening snowstorm to the summit of Alverstone that day. From our high camp we had hoped also to climb the peak then known as East Hubbard, and later renamed Mount Kennedy, but the storm made that impossible, holding us immobile in our tents until 31 July when we began the descent through about three feet of fresh snow.

We were back at our base camp on 1 wait for the return of the Norseman to pick us up. Instead, there arrived on 4 August a ski-equipped C-47 from the USAF, coming to take us back back to Yakutat, and to tell us the Norseman had vanished; it had taken off from the Seward Glacier, below the Arctic Institute's base, on 27 July the day we had stood on...

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