Eight of us, four from Seattle and four from Boulder, Co spent 26 days making the 1st ascent of Independence Ridge in July of 1964.
The climb was steep and very exposed from the beginning with most of the difficulties being encountered from the bottom to 14800'. We set about 11,000' of fixed line for protection, which saved our butts on more than one occasion and had six camps on the mountain. The line went straight up the ridge to the 14800' plateau then curved upward and easterly under the NE Pk for many miles to the summit.
In places the highly exposed ridge was heavily corniced in both directions and the coup de grace was a knife edged, two foot wide, 200 yard traverse at the 14600' level with huge, 80 degree, 8000' drops off both sides, one of the greatest adrenaline rushes I've experienced in the mountains in over 45 years of climbing! From 14,800 to about 18,000 the glacier looked easy but was absolutely honeycombed with hidden crevasses, a distance of nearly three miles! Not a step could be taken without probing ahead with the axe for crevasses. We maintained VERY taught ropes and fell into the crevasses on numerous occasions. The crevasses were hundreds of feet deep and in many ways this was the scariest part of the climb.
At 17400' we were treated to a seven day long storm with gusts over 80 mph and temps under -35F.
The day after the storm we climbed the NE Summit and the following day we reached the main summit in beautiful clear weather (which we had precious little of) on July 4, thus the name Independence Ridge. The return down the ridge was extremely dangerous and took three days in very heavy new snow and poor visibility.
The trip out was an expedition in itself as we did what we believe was the first traverse from the N side of Logan up the Hubbard and down the Kaskawulsh Glaciers to Kluane Lake pulling a 500lb sled and taking ten days. The river crossings were imposing and close encounters of the wrong kind with Grizzlies added to the excitement. All in all the climb and hike out was a phenomenal expedition with no injuries and a great attitude by everyone on the trip.
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