Glacier Peak (July '85, Frostbite Ridge)

   In 1985, on July 4, 5 & 6, I climbed Glacier Peak with Jim and Al. We drove up the Whitechuck River road to the Whitechuck River trailhead. We made it to Glacier Cr. and made camp there at 4:30 pm. On July 5th, we left camp at 5:30 am. Our objective was to climb the Frostbite Ridge route. We roped up for the Kennedy glacier. We unroped when we got to the “Rabbit Ears”.  We descended a bit, then roped up again, and continued up to the false summit. I was surprised at how icy the slope was just below the summit. We reached the summit at 2:00 pm. We were the only ones on the summit. We headed down at 2:30 pm. I tried to talk Jim and Al into front pointing in the icy section. They wanted to use the French Technique. I led down, Jim was 2nd, and Al was 3rd on the rope. We didn’t go straight down the slope; I angled right. I knew there was a crevasse at the bottom that I was concerned about, as one could fall into it. Suddenly, Al slipped; Jim and I went into the ice-axe arrest immediately. I was convinced that Al, who is 6’ 5” tall was going to pull both of us down the icy slope via the shorter than usual 9mm 120’ rope we were using. Miraculously, Jim stopped Al’s fall by himself. It was the best team ice-axe arrest I have seen while climbing. I examined what happened. Al said his crampon came off. His ice-axe was imbedded in the ice above him. He broke the cardinal rule, and lost his ice axe. His stocking hat was on the icy slope also. I have previously been out of control on an icy slope before (see Locale->Longview->Mt. St. Helens Area->Climb above) and I know how difficult it can be to stop oneself after one gains momentum. Al definitely had gained a lot of momentum after he slipped. I was sorry to see Al slip like that, but I was really glad to see how Jim performed that 4th of July weekend! We stopped so Al could put his crampon back on, and then continued down. We reached our camp at 8:30 pm, so it was a long day for us. We hiked out the following day.

© Wayne's Beach House site 2011