Ascent of Mount Foraker on 2018-06-02

Climber: Scott Larson

Date:Saturday, June 2, 2018
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
Peak:Mount Foraker
    Elevation:11200 ft / 3413 m

Ascent Trip Report

Today was a disappointing day. I had a lazy morning because I figured the ridge to the base of Foraker would be 3 miles of easy traversing. How wrong I was. The first quarter mile or so was straightforward, but then the ridge dips to its lowest point along this section between 12472 and Foraker. Where there are saddles/cols/dips like this, the wind accelerates as it gets funneled through there, causing way more gnarled features than the rest of the route. Ahead lay giant crevasses and smooth snowfields with who’s know what lurking underneath. My progress was halted by a crevasse maybe 10 feet wide. There was no way around it, so I drove my picket into the snow to make an anchor, roped up, and belayed myself across. The snow bridge held my weight. I looked around for how to continue. To the left were cauliflower seracs with obvious crevasses under them, slowly making their way down the very steep east side. The right, west side of the ridge had beautiful fields of smooth, rolling snow, but these covered huge crevasses. The way the bumps in the terrain were, there was no way to see behind them to navigate. The only feasible way I could see to go required crossing at least two huge, covered crevasses. With three dangerous miles to go and not knowing what lay beyond the half mile that I could see, I decided to turn around. Self-belaying across the remaining ridge seemed tedious and time consuming, and there was no guarantee that I’d be able to reverse my route for the way back down. This was beyond my risk tolerance for a solo mission. I don’t often give up in the mountains, but I knew going into it that this was a lofty goal with a high chance of failure. I’m neither sad nor upset. I feel I made a wise decision and the right decision. After turning around, I quickly got back to where I camped and put on crampons for the steep climb back up 12472, retracing my steps from last night. It was in the middle of a warm day and the snow was horribly balling up on my crampons. I could see all of what was in the clouds last night - my route was indeed pretty scary, especially having to ascend the small crevasses that I had crossed on the way down. Going down is easy, you can almost jump over them or carefully and quickly step across. But the way back up requires you to kick your feet in to gain vertical and slam an ice tool in for purchase. If the snow is too weak or you pick a bad spot, you’ll punch through; maybe even collapse the thing and take a big fall. I made an effort to cross them as fast and carefully as possible. Once I reached my high point, I put my skis on for the descent to the saddle between 12472 and Crosson. I didn’t even bother to take my skins off. The snow wasn’t good for skiing, nor was the heavy pack. I decided to stay here for the night because the descent down Crosson is a very steep 6000 vertical feet, all east-facing. In the evening, this is in the shade, so the snow refreezes and would be treacherous to descend, especially after a long, stressful day. I made it to the saddle by early evening and had plenty of time to build a bomber tent platform, dry out gear and cook dinner in the sun’s warm rays.

Full report and photos here:
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Snow on Ground, Snow Climb, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Skis, Ski Poles, Tent Camp
Ascent Part of Trip: Foraker Full NE Ridge (8 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Mount Capps2018-05-31 
2Kahiltna Dome2018-05-31 
3(Attempt) Mount Foraker2018-06-02 
4Mount Crosson2018-06-03 
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Scott Larson
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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