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Ascent of Snow Tower on 2015-06-21

Climber: Ben Still

Date:Sunday, June 21, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Snow Tower
    Location:USA-Alaska
    Elevation:6572 ft / 2003 m

Ascent Trip Report

A great three day trip up Snow Tower with Dave Hart.

Some photos

We flew out of Juneau at 7am via floatplane to Crescent Lake just north of Snow Tower at an elevation of 174' on June 20th. We were dropped off at the west end of the lake right at the base of the north ridge of the Snow Tower. We started the bushwhack at 8am up through very steep spruce hemlock forest navigating around some big granite cliffs. The bushwhack was not bad, but the terrain and route finding were interesting. There was a slick exposed traverse an a narrow ledge with a large cliff below and on above. We broke out of the brush around 2000' and continued hiking up through granite slabs and alpine heather to a nice camp at 3300' with a great little snow melt stream and awesome views. We arrived at camp around 1:30pm after several leisurely breaks below. An afternoon nap and an early bedtime made the afternoon go quickly.

We woke up at 4am with clouds hovering around 4000' (similar to yesterday), figured we had to get ready and hike up as high as we could and see it the weather broke. We left camp around 5:30am and cruised up easy snow slopes weaving around rock slabs to 4500', right at the start of the glacier. The clouds were lifting and we still had a few hundred feet of snow covered glacier to climb before we entered them. We roped up and continued up and quite quickly the clouds parted and we could see the sharp rocky summit tower of the Snow Tower. A 1000 feet of iron stained rock which looked pretty chossy. At 5300' we began a traverse around to what we hoped would be easier terrain on the south west side of the peak. The glacier had a perfect bench to cruise along with giant crevasses above and below us. Only a few snow bridges were encountered. We climbed around several bergshrunds and continued up very steep snow over another bergshrund to the ridge crest at 6400 feet on the south west side of the Snow Tower. From here we did a running belay for several hundred feet along a rotten narrow exposed ridge over several gendarmes to just below the false summit. All 4th class terrain. I led a short pitch of low fifth class to the top of the false summit. A mere 15 feet lower than the true summit, but separated by a 100 foot deep notch. We rappelled 100 feet into the notch and traversed around to the east of the summit and climbed up an easy 4th class gully to the summit at 2:45pm! My friends Mike Miller and Will Wacker made the 1st ascent of Snow Tower only a few days before on June 15th, so we had route beta from them and we signed the small register they left on the summit. We were a little nervous about retracing the route back down so we only stayed on top for 15 minutes after Dave opened his fathers day cards from his kids. We moved much faster on the way down and reversed the rock in an 1.5 hours and continued down easy terrain along the ridge bypassing the steep snow and bergshrunds and reconnected with our tracks on the glacier. We followed our tracks back to camp by 6:30pm. An awesome summit day!

We woke up at 6am the next morning and didn't leave camp until nearly 8am,and very carefully retraced our steps back down through the brush. Which is very critical as the route is very narrow and missing it by 10 feet would require lots of rappelling over unknown terrain. We were back down to the lake before lunch and got picked up by the floatplane at 1pm.
Click on photo for original larger-size version.
The NE aspect of Snow Tower a 6000' prominence peak in SE Alaska (2015-06-21). Photo by Ben Still.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:7198 ft / 2193 m
    Extra Gain:400 ft / 121 m
    Trailhead:174 ft / 53 m
    Route Conditions:
Bushwhack, Scramble, Exposed Scramble, Rock Climb, Snow Climb, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Tent Camp



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