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Shane Rathbun

NE Fork of the Kahiltna

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Does anyone have any advice on route finding through this mess? Annotated route photos?

Anyone gone through it in mid-June?

 

Looking to attempt the West Rib after acclimatizing on the West Buttress, thanks.

Edited by Shane Rathbun

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wow

 

how about you just go in the valley and walk around the crevasses? Don't go underneath icefalls. good enough for ya?

 

or pay for a sightseeing trip and fly through there and figure it out on your own. Glaciers change yearly. Just because someone stayed a certain path 5 years ago doesn't mean that it is a good way now.

 

many before you walked up that valley and didn't have the beta so you will do fine. unless you need your hand held through the scary parts of life.

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Hi Shane,

Having done this route, i would say mid June is really pushing it for safe(er) conditions on the NE fork. My opinion is that late May would be a better time to start this route. But, of course, conditions will vary from season to season and this is only MY opinion. I would also consider adopting a nighttime schedule until you reach the couloir proper. A warm sunny afternoon is NOT the time to pass through unavoidable objective hazards. Doing this route alpine style will minimize your time in there. We certainly saw some rippers come down while on the rib itself. It's a great route, i hope you have as good a time as i did! There's really nothing more i can tell you that isn't already extensively covered in more than one guide book. Good luck!

 

A little stoke for ya, i tried to post photos mostly involving the NE fork.

 

ne_fork_kahiltna.JPG

 

ne_fork_kahiltna4.JPG

 

ne_fork_kahiltna2.JPG

 

ne_fork_kahiltna6.JPG

 

ne_fork_kahiltna5.JPG

 

avalanche_e_fork.JPG

 

w_rib.JPG

 

ne_fork_kahiltna7.JPG

 

w_rib5.JPG

 

14700_camp_west_rib.JPG

 

w_rib3.JPG

 

w_rib4.JPG

 

12400_w_rib1.JPG

 

 

 

ORRR... you can go to the Wrangell/St Elias ranges and tag a few of a gazillion unclimbed peaks at the same grade!

 

mt_hawaii_sam.JPG

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Dane: I read that. Thanks, I appreciate your support.

 

Brad: Thanks for your advice and photos. Looks beautiful. We plan to do it alpine style. I think we will put in a cache at 16k on the Rib before we descend WB. This will allow us to move quickly through the ice fall and up the lower portion of the Rib. It will also work as a back up of supplies in case anything goes wrong, like getting pinned down in a storm and we began to run low on food/fuel.

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Shane, I have gone through the NE fork twice in late June (~20th both times). Once in 2000, another in 2007.

It has stayed pretty consistent through the years: get way to the left as you enter the canyon and stay there for a fair distance, although there are still plenty of crevasses there is a good trough on the side of the glacier that avoids the worst of the icefalls further right. Mid valley, you can move more into the center. The biggest problem is usually the last icefall just below the start of the Rib. Both times I more or less went at it straight up the middle at first, then for the final part, worked up and through crevasses and aiming far to the right,near the glacier's right edge,maybe even climbing the slope rising off the right side of the glacier a bit, allowing you to skirt above the last bit of the icefall. Unfortunately, this puts you unavoidably into the path of serac fall from a menacing and active serac (I think it's the one in the background of Brad's 5th picture above). But you can get out of the way in about 20 minutes, and cut back hard across the glacier to the start of the Rib. The left side of the icefall is pretty much impassable all the time so the serac exposure is unavoidable.

 

June will be fine, just go at night, starting from 7,800' around 12 AM. It took us 5 hours +/- both times to reach the foot of the Cassin and SW face.

 

Good luck,

-Mark

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There you go Shane, from the King of the Kahiltna himself.

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Good info on the approach - would have said about the same as Mark, start left, move center as the valley narrows then stay right. We stayed right past the ice fall as we were headed up the Cassin. But really follow your nose. Whatever, you plan do not head in after any significant snow fall.

 

One comment on your plan of going into the West Buttress first to acclimate. You might consider just going to the Rib directly. The rib has a fair amount of horizontal to it as such one can reasonably acclimate on route. Though the initial col from 11k to 13k can be a bit harsh with extra weight. Many many end up carrying a load.

 

Also note that the vast majority people who go up the West Butt to acclimate never get on their proposed route. i.e. you might just get up the 14k camp and say bollox and just do the butt or the upper rib - which many say is the best part.

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When friends and I climbed the Cassin Ridge we were there in late June and summited July 1. During that year most folks were shut down in May due to bad weather.

 

We had some rough weather experiences, but it worked out fine. I think ideal weather conditions are different every year.

 

Stashing food at 16K on the West Butt is a great plan. We were happy we did that.

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Shane, I'm looking to get on the mountain come mid-june. when are you flying in? i need a partner in a bad way and am available starting june 17.

 

matt

 

651 270 4492

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