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White Princess
Mountain/Rock

White Princess

 
White Princess

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Alaska, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 63.42000°N / 145.4205°W

Object Title: White Princess

Elevation: 9850 ft / 3002 m

 

Page By: AlexeyD

Created/Edited: Jul 9, 2002 / Sep 28, 2005

Object ID: 151061

Hits: 11604 

Page Score: 81.65%  - 15 Votes 

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Overview


The White Princess is located in the eastern Alaska Range, east of the Richardson Highway. As the name implies, it is a beautiful, majestic peak whose graceful snowy ridges and pointed summit dominates the valley of the Castner glacier. It is part of a north-south ridge that also includes Old Snowy, M'Ladies Mountain, Black Cap and a number of other worthwhile peaks. The mountain is within hiking distance of the highway and can be seen from it, but nevertheless is far enough from it to retain a classic Alaskan wilderness feel, without the fly-in crowds that Denali sometimes has.

The mountain has several ridges and faces. A ridge runs north from the summit towards Black Cap, curving around the cirque of the northern branch of the Castner Glacier. The west face is the most formidable side of the mountain, over 4000 feet high, with rotten rock and hanging glaciers which spawn avalanches and icefall. On the south side are two prominent ridges (the western of which is easier) separated by a steep and severely broken glacier. The ridge on the east side of this glacier forms the main spine of the mountain, and eventually connects with Gunsight Peak (named for the deep notch in the summit block) and M'ladies Peak to the south. This ridge can be reached fairly easily by climbing a straightforward snow and scree slope to the col just left of Gunsight peak, to a height of about 8,000 feet, but the crest itself is narrow, serrated and heavily corniced.

Access to the northern aspects of the White Princess is somewhat difficult due to a broken-up section of the Castner Glacier just above the junction with the M'Ladies branch. The easier way is to follow the south (M'Ladies) branch of the Castner Glacier, turn the corner left, and set up base camp at about 6000 feet in the cirque between White Princess and M'Ladies Peak (but set it well away from the latter - the steep face above the cirque regularly releases avalanches). This glacier is very low-angle and has few crevasses, but the snow conditions can become very soggy during the summer months, and even with snowshoes it can take two days to travel a distance of 4 miles. If it's cold enough definitely consider traveling at night.

Getting There


From Anchorage, take the Glenn Highway to Glennallen; then turn north on the Richardson Highway. Drive past the town (of Paxson and past Summit Lake and the height-of-land, until you reach a bridge over Castner Creek. The hike starts here - the creek issues right out of the glacier and you get right on by climbing up the moraine.


To approach the base, hike up the rock covered glacier for several miles until you're on bare ice at around 4000 to 4500 feet. Access to the northern aspects of the White Princess is somewhat difficult due to a broken-up section of the Castner Glacier just above the junction with the M'Ladies branch. The easier way is to follow the south (M'Ladies) branch of the Castner Glacier, turn the corner left, and set up base camp at about 6000 feet in the cirque between White Princess and M'Ladies Peak (but set it well away from the latter, since one of the faces constantly releases avalanches). This glacier is very low-angle and has few crevasses, but the snow conditions can become very soggy during the summer months, and even with snowshoes it can take two days to travel a distance of 4 miles. If it's cold enough definitely consider traveling at night.

Red Tape


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When To Climb


Since the rock in this part of the Alaska Range is not very pleasant, you will want to do as much of your climbing as possible as snow and ice, which means going early enough for good snow coverage and cold enough nights for the snow to turn into hard neve. We were there in early June, during unseasonably warm weather following an unseasonably cold and snowy spring. This made for difficult snow conditions: deep and soggy on the bottom, and dangerously unstable on steep slopes. Based on that experience, I would say from late April to late May is probably the optimal time.

Camping


It has been rumored that there is an old climbers' hut above the fork in the glacier, on the left branch...however because of the difficulties getting through the small icefall in that section we never got to it.

Mountain Conditions


As a general rule, the eastern Alaska Range tends to be somewhat warmer and drier than the Denali region. The reason is that the Denali massif is situated in such a way that it catches storm systems both from the Gulf of Alaska to the South, and from the Bering Sea to the west, and absorbs a lot of the wind and moisture from them. The eastern section, on the other hand, is shielded by the Chugach and Wrangell ranges to the south and by Denali itself as well as the high peaks around Mt. Hayes to the west.

Images

Summit RidgeMidnight on the M\'Ladies...crevasse fieldthe mountainSummit of White Princess,...One of the more interesting...Southwest Ridge Route
Black Cap and White PrincessCastner Glacier South Branchdelta rangeThayer HutTrailheaddelta range II