« AnteriorContinuar »
we had clearer weather, and after a long day's march established camp at about 15,500 feet, above the most difficult portion of the glacier. A snow storm held us here the next day, but on June 16, moving slowly through the deep, soft snow, we advanced the camp to an altitude of 16,760 feet, on the smoother slopes above the ice-fall. Levels on King peak and Mt. St. Elias fixed the altitude of this point with some accuracy. In the evening, a placid sea of clouds stretched out to the Pacific at an altitude of about 12,000 feet, and views of indescribable grandeur were obtained. During the night the temperature dropped to -32° F.
In clearer weather it was interesting to observe a portion of the Malaspina glacier which was visible from this altitude to the left of Mt. St. Elias. On one occasion, more than twenty distinct surface moraines were counted. These were separated by very uniform strips of white ice and formed a pattern of great regularity.
It should be understood that we were now about half-way up a sort of secondary trench above King col. The total length of this trench is something more than four miles. At its head, clearly shown in the Sella photograph referred to above, is a small peak probably under 19,000 feet in height, the higher summits of Mt. Logan being five miles beyond. On June 17, we reached an altitude of about 18,500 feet on a wind-swept shoulder of this peak, but could see nothing, due to clouds and storm. It became necessary to bring up additional supplies from the King col camp before attempting any further advance.
On June 18, MacCarthy, Read and Foster remained to make a further reconnaissance to the head of the trench and ascertain the route beyond to the main summit, while the others went down to King col for provisions and fuel. The reconnaissance party obtained good views, confirming the position of the summits as indicated on the map, and indicating the necessity for at least two higher camps. During the night, a temperature of -33° F. was registered at the 16,760 foot camp, the lowest recorded on the expedition. The next day, the three men descended part way to meet the relay party coming up from King col.
The latter party had made the trip with some difficulty, due to the deep snow, there being no trace of the former track. The two groups met on June 19 near the 15,000 foot level and divided up the packs. The weather at this time was warm (about 25° F.) and somewhat sultry, but presently a wind and snow storm arose with the suddenness characteristic of high mountain regions and of such violence that for a time it seemed as if we could not progress against it. Not until 9 P. M. did we reach camp, and even then the tents had to be cleared of snow and set up before we could find shelter. Fortunately the temperature was not at any time very low. The next day Hall and Morgan decided to turn back, Morgan's toes being frostbitten.'
On June 20, packs were carried up to the 18,500 foot level and deposited on a ridge just to the left of the peak at the head of our trench, giving access to the great ice-cap along the north side of the summit area. June 21 was again stormy, but cleared towards evening, and at 6.30 P. M., we broke camp and moved up to the cache at 18,500 feet. At this latitude, the sun does not set until nearly 10 P. M., but after that time the temperature drops rapidly. We made camp on the ridge shortly after ten, and rigged the tents with the thermometer at -10° F. It is probable that this is the highest camp ever established in North America.
On June 22, we crossed the ridge with 60 lb. packs and moved out across the summit plateau about two miles. Unfortunately it was nesessary to drop down nearly 1,000 feet to do this, camp being made at about 17,500 feet.
The so-called summit plateau of Mt. Logan is an uplifted area of strong relief, completely covered with ice, nearly eight miles long by two miles wide. From the escarpment of the Seward glacier on the south, along which the highest peaks are located, the summit area slopes generally downward to the north, to a level of between 16,000 and 17,000 feet. A considerable number of individual peaks and ridges rising from one to three thousand feet above this base level constitute in effect a secondary mountain system superimposed on the primary massif of Mt. Logan. This topography is not shown in detail on the Boundary Survey map, many of the features being no doubt masked from distant stations of lower altitude. At least two peaks at the west end of the plateau approach 19,000 feet; the highest summits form a cluster of three peaks at its east extremity. Several intermediate points send down ridges across the ice field, and our camp was at the foot of one of these, still not in sight of the main summits.
* They made the descent in safety, reaching McCarthy a few days before the main party.
2. View Down King Peak Trench Toward Quintino Sella Glacier.
(Slopes of "Observation Peak” at Right.)
7. 19,800 Foot Summit of Mt. Logan, from 19,000 Foot Level Between Summits. (Escarpment to Seward Glacier at Left.)
The night of the 22nd and the morning of the 23rd were stormy, but by 10 A. m. it had cleared sufficiently for us to start on the final climb. Crossing the ridge immediately above and to the east of the camp, we circled the valley beyond to the next ridge and climbed slowly up a long slope above this to a shoulder of the first of the main summits, the highest point of which, 19,800 feet, was reached in good weather at 4.30 P. M.
As indicated on the map, there was a further summit about a mile beyond this, and observations with an Abney level confirmed the fact that it was nearly 100 feet higher. A third point to the northeast, contoured at 19,000 feet, certainly exceeds that figure, but is apparently not quite so high as the other two. In the notch between the two highest summits, on the edge of the escarpment towards the Seward glacier, there is a quantity of exposed rock—a yellowish-brown granite. We dropped down to this point and left a part of our packs. The wind had increased, and as we started up the steeper slopes of the final peak, towards 7 P. M., after nine precious hours of sunshine, drifting clouds and snow again enveloped us.
The upper part of the final climb was steeper than anything previously encountered on the mountain.' Although equipped with crampons, many steps had to be cut. Emerging at last on a shoulder some hundred feet below the top, a narrow ice ridge soared up into the thin fog above us, as slender and exposed as any Alpine summit. Making fair progress along this with crampons, we reached the highest point at 8 P. M. The temperature was +4° F. There was no view, but we were greeted by the peculiar atmospheric phenomenon known as the "spectre of the Brocken," a shadow image of each observer formed in the mist, the head surrounded by a faintly coloured fog-bow.'
During the ascent, as throughout all our work on the glaciers, we had followed the Alaskan custom of marking the route by means of willow branches thrust into the snow at suitable intervals.
* Excepting possibly a short pitch above "Cascade Camp,” where a slope of 39.5 degrees was measured.
* This phenomenon may occur at any suitably elevated place where shadows may be cast into a fog bank partially surrounding the observer. Such shadows not being formed in any definite plane, but rather built up in depth within the fog bank, are only visible when the direction of observation coincides closely with that of the sun's rays. Each observer sees only the shadow of objects near himself, in particular the upper part of his own body, while the shadows cast by persons or objects a few feet distant may be indistinct or invisible. The phenomenon apparently was new to most members of the party, and excited considerable interest.