'Tis the season. We leave for the Alaska Range in two weeks so I thought I'd scan some old photos to remind myself what I'm getting into. These photos are from a 2002 May ascent of the SE Ridge of Mt. Crosson with my friend Dahr Jamail.
I don't remember too much about the climb... I know we took about 2 1/2 days to climb it. On the first day we skied from basecamp and made it to the 8,500' camp. It was a mellow day - maybe 6 or 7 hours of moving slowly? On the second day we climbed the peak. It was about a 12 hour day roundtrip if I remember correctly. We weren't in much of a hurry and had absolutely stellar weather. We broke trail most of the day but for a while a group of 2 who were attempting the Sultana traded places with us.
For the most part the ridge was super mellow. The crevasses are rather funky because they go in all directions, but they're never big enough to really spook you. Around 11K there was a rather loaded slope that looked like it could be a potential hair-trigger ave slope in the right conditions. Unfortunately this slope is also crevassed so choose your poison: un-rope for avalanche safety or rope up for crevasse safety. Around 12K the ridge gets really wind sculpted and I remember we had a spicy bergschrund I had to belly crawl across (on the way down we were able to leap over it). We summited in late afternoon and had awesome views - which was an added bonus considering when I climbed Kahiltna Dome in 2004 the summit (which is renown for having a beautiful 360 view) was shrouded in clouds.
We descended safely, cooked dinner, slept and then woke up reasonably early (to avoid rock fall on the descent) and were back at Kahiltna Base Camp by early afternoon.
Since this was in 2002 I was probably carrying my Minolta SLR with a fixed 50mm lens and my Olympus Stylus Point and Shoot (which was an awesome camera!). Apparently I didn't fiddle with the SLR enough because most of my photos are overexposed - however with some tweaking the B&W versions came out well enough.
This is a fun route - but more so than anything it's a breathtaking route. The view of upper Kahiltna and Mt. Hunter while you're climbing the ridge is amazing. From the summit the views of Denali and Foraker are intense. If you're a photographer and a climber then put this route on your list. Climb it during a period of high pressure, camp on the summit and you'll get some awesome photos!
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