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Mount "Chakachamna" First Ascent


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Summary: Brook Alongi, Fred Beckey, and I recently climbed a previously unclimbed 7530ft peak in the Neacola Range via a 3000ft, 40-50 degree snow coulior on the south side of the peak.


Details: Fred and two others attempted to climb this peak two years ago. The two guys started climbing the coulior starting at midday on a warm day against Fred's advice. They made it about halfway up the coulior and were then washed down to the base of the coulior by an avalanche! hellno3d.gif No injuries, but that was the end of that attempt.


While the peak is only ~70 miles SW of Anchorage, and is visible from the southern end of Anchorage, getting there is no easy task. We took a wheeled plane from Anchorage to a small gravel strip on the west side of Cook Inslet which is primarily used as a service station for the offshore oil rigs. We were then picked up by a helicopter and deposited on the glacier at the base of the route.






We set up our tents, and started climbing. The route was straightforward and we stayed to the climber's left side of the coulior.



The weather began to deteriorate as we approached the top of the coulior and a moderate snowfall with some wind greeted us when we reached the col. Fred was very tired at this point and decided to sit at the col and wait while Brook and I continued on toward the summit (we estimated about 200' vertical away at that point).



I led up through some granite blocks and put in a piece of rock pro or two.



We were trying to move very fast at this point because Fred was cold and nervous about being left alone, tired, on an untraveled peak, with 3000' of steep snow separating him from our camp. Brook soon joined me and we looked over a slight rise and saw the summit about 100 yards away and less than 100' above us. The snow was falling more heavily at this point and it was getting pretty blustery, so we decided to turn around and start getting Fred, and ourselves, back down. There were really no technical difficulties between ourselves and the "true" summit, so I consider our effort a "summit". If you don't, that's fine.


We reversed our steps down the coulior with LOTS of face-in downclimbing and putting in pickets as running belay anchors since we were pretty tired at this point.


A few pics of us descending:





We got back to the tents after 15 hours on the go.


Fred was pretty beat, but Brook and I hoped to do some more climbing in the next few days (unclimbed rocks/peaks everywhere!), so we went to sleep looking forward to some faster-paced activity in the future. This was not to be the case however as a storm rolled in and we spent 5 days hellno3d.gif huddled in our tents being pummeled by rain, wind, and snow without much pause.



I think we had a total of about 3hrs of time over the course of those 5 days that were pleasant enough to get out of the tent for more than a pee-break. We did lots of reading, playing cards, sleeping, and listening to the rain patter against the tent. FUN!


Finally the weather broke!



Note whiskey:




We used the satelite telephone to contact the chopper and initiate our retreival/rescue. We were so elated about the nice weather that we started drinking whiskey and inventing "glacier games". Here are the results as I remember them from my whiskey-affected state cantfocus.gif



Ski Pole Javelin/Me

Propane Canister Shot-put/Brook

Ice-axe tomahawk throw/Me

Half-eaten Horescock Hammer Throw/Brook

Fred was not interested in participating in our silliness, but if he had, I think he would be a natural for the horsecock toss.


In any case, we finally got out of there and flew home. We considered many potential names for the peak including "Horsecock Peak", "Mount GeorgeBushSucks", "Mount Snugtop", and several others, but settled on the more-likely-to-be-accepted-by-the-USGS "Mount Chakachamna" in reference to the large lake with that name just north of the peak.



Chakachamna Lake is visible at the top of the picture. Our mountain, "Mount Chakachamna" is the point labeled 7530 at the bottom right of the picture. Our coulior is on the south side of the peak.


There are lots more unclimbed peaks/rocks in the area like these cool-looking buttresses:


although the rock quality did not look very good with a few exceptions.


Thanks to Fred for planning the trip and making it happen. Thanks to Brook for the great partnership, patience, and calm demeanor.


Thanks to Jim Sweeney and Art Davidson for their hospitality and for sharing their stories.

Edited by porter
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Nice report. Beckey wasn't really tired. He just knew you two wouldn't make it to the top.


With a little research, you could probably ascertain the origin of the word chakachamna and come up with a related reference name for the peak (another Native American word related to chakachamna). Why name a peak after a nearby lake?


(My partypooper comment: no, I don't believe that's a FA of the peak but it is for the couloir. Weather and the concerns for other climbers in the party are just as valid reasons for not being successful as any other due to objective technical dangers. Of course I wasn't there. But do I have to be?)

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Nice report. Beckey wasn't really tired. He just knew you two wouldn't make it to the top.






Not as many as he brought on our recent trip to Juneau. hellno3d.gif We stopped at every McDonalds between here and Prince Rupert so he could resupply.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Very cool! Proof that a mountain doesn't have to be the tallest or the badassest to be just plain fun and cool. I agree, that looks like a natural ski line. It would actually make it much easier. Unless conditions were straight up awful, skiing down that would be much easier than face in downclimbing. pitty.gif

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An important correction:

I have been informed that Brook won the ice-axe toss. I've filed a complaint with the international glacier games association and will be requesting drug testing of the "winner".



Yes, skiing that line would be fun and better than downclimbing. Sure wish we had brought skis.


The whiskey survived our five tent-bound days because we didn't want to endure the resulting frequent trips out of the tent to "shake the dew off the lily".

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I think in this case Klenke is right. While I think it's a first ascent of a route, I dont think "getting with a hundred feet" counts as an ascent in the case of a first ascent of a whole mountain. It just isn't the same as stopping a few feet from the summit of a peak in the cascades and then considering it a summit. The fact remains that nobody has stepped foot on the highest point on that mountain.

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  • 1 year later...

I wonder if Fred feels bad about not being the hardman climber he used to be, or if he's cool with doing the best he can with an 80+-year-old body, and hey, it's better than nuthin'? Seems like it would be frustrating. (Although he does more than almost any other person that age.)

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  • 3 months later...

Mount "Chakachamna" First Ascent????

Brook soon joined me and we looked over a slight rise and saw the summit about 100 yards away and less than 100' above us.... There were really no technical difficulties between ourselves and the "true" summit, so I consider our effort a "summit". If you don't, that's fine.


What the hell is this crap??? Great trip report and sounds like an awesome area but I gotta call you on this. If you were only 100 yards with "really no technical difficulties", why didn't you just run up there and tag it? You're excuses aren't justification as to your summit claim but rather as to your need to turn around before the summit. You are not the FA of Chakachamna but only the snow couliour.


I sat in Mt. Baker parking lot and saw no technical difficulties from where I stood to the top but I don't tell people I summited it!!! I don't care if you had 15 feet of rambling to go but ran out of rope or if you tripped and slid back to the bottom or had a psycho girlfriend that wanted you back before dark... there is no way you can claim that you summited!!! Do people climbing everest stop and turn around at the top of the Hillary Step because there is no more technical difficulties and there is no difference between continuing on to the real summit or not?


Sorry for having to play the the_finger.gif but as much as I'd like to see Fred tick another mountain at his age, none of you did. Is he claiming he was the FA too? If so I'm surprised!!I do appreciate your honesty by not simply saying that you summited but to put your name anywhere as the official first ascent would be a lie!!! I lose all respect for people that over claim their achievments and those that undstate them gain my respect.

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