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Mtn logan stock 92

Mount Logan King Trench

Lead Guide Joe Stock wraps up the excit­ing Mount Logan expe­di­tion we’ve all been fol­low­ing with a great pho­to sum­ma­ry of the trip. Con­grat­u­la­tions again to guides Joe and Tino and their team! 

Logan is huge. By some mea­sures it has the largest base cir­cum­fer­ence of any non-vol­canic moun­tain in the world. Ski­ing glac­i­ers around Logan is 120 miles. The sum­mit plateau has 11 peaks over 5000 meters. My first view of Logan was from a Bage­ly Ice­field nunatak at 2am in 1999. I could­n’t com­pre­hend the cas­tle-like sum­mits hang­ing over the sea of small­er peaks. It looked like a dis­tant range. No one for­gets their first sight of Logan.

Logan’s oth­er great fea­ture is it’s sec­ond high­est. Although Logan is the high­est sum­mit in Cana­da it is still sec­ond in North Amer­i­ca. That means thou­sands attempt 20,320-foot Denali each year, while less than 100 attempt 19,551-foot Mount Logan. On our 21-day trip we saw nobody after day six. Being sec­ond high­est also means there’s lit­tle infor­ma­tion about the route. Adventure!!

Glenn and I first dis­cussed Logan five years ago. Paul heard about our plans and jumped onboard, the Logan chap­ter in Steve Bar­net­t’s The Best Ski Tour­ing in Amer­i­ca was vivid in Paul’s mem­o­ry. Jere­my Allyn at Moun­tain Mad­ness was keen to wran­gle the per­mits. And Michael Thomas, who’d been on many Mad­ness trips, is always ready for high points.

Moun­tain Mad­ness guide Tino Vil­lanue­va pack­ing in my garage in Anchor­age. Sort­ing gear took a sev­er­al hours. Plan­ning, buy­ing and pack­ing food took two days. 

John and Elli­nore Claus drove us five hours to Chiti­na where we met Paul Claus and his Tur­bo Otter of Ulti­ma Thule. Paul is the only show on skis on the US side. Fly­ing from Haines Junc­tion is anoth­er option, but the weath­er is worse. The flight to Logan cross­es seri­ous wilder­ness. Wrangell-Saint Elias Nation­al Park is Amer­i­ca’s largest and the glac­i­ers are the largest out­side of Green­land and Antarctica.

The crew: beside me are Glenn Wil­son from Tul­sa, Okla­homa who I first climbed with on Mount Bak­er in 1998 and have since been to Mount Bona and Ecuador, Paul Mus­cat and I went on an epic Arc­tic Refuge trip in 2009, Michael Thomas from Cal­i­for­nia has climbed high peaks all over the world, and Tino Vil­lanue­va is from Seat­tle and works for Moun­tain Mad­ness and Valdez Heli Camps. The thing about Logan is it attracts inter­est­ing peo­ple. We had an absolute blast together.

Paul dropped us 0.2 km from the Cana­di­an bor­der. We hauled our full kit, sin­gle-car­ry for six hours to the entrance of the King Trench.

At Camp I below the King Trench. The high­est-look­ing sum­mit is King Peak. 

We rolled in style. 

Paul chill­ing at Camp III at 13,400 feet on King Col. The crux of the route – the Mac­Carthy Gap – climbs through the icefall. 

King Peak (16,972 feet), the ninth high­est in North Amer­i­ca, is a toothy peak that dom­i­nates the view from King Col.

Glenn prefers his view dom­i­nat­ed by a 10-inch flap­per bal­anced on his Ther­mis­tor 435. 

Paul freeze-dry­ing his long undies. 

The crux of the King Trench: haul­ing a ton of gear up the Mac­Carthy Gap. 

Tra­vers­ing below ser­acs on the Mac­Carthy Gap.

Camp IV on the Foot­ball Field at 15,860. Prospec­tor’s Col is in the notch above and right of the Mid.

We car­ried sev­en days of food and fuel to Prospec­tor’s Col, then spent a day at Camp IV eat­ing, repair­ing gear and eating.

High camp at on the great plateau. My high school super-hero and men­tor, glaciol­o­gist Mel Mar­cus told me about spend­ing sum­mer of 1970 liv­ing on this ice plateau and climb­ing all it’s summits.

After a rest day we set off at 9am for the sum­mit. Wind and near-zero temps kept us lay­ered-up all day.

On the sum­mit ridge.

Logan sum­mit at 5pm: Michael, Tino, Paul, Glenn and Joe. This is Michael’s fourth Sec­ond Sev­en includ­ing Ojos del Sal­a­do (22,615 feet) in Argenti­na, Mount Kenya (17,057 feet) in Kenya and Mount Townsend (7,247 feet) in Aus­tralia. He’s tried Dykh-Tau (17,077 feet) in Rus­sia twice. He’d like to go to Mount Tyree (15,919 feet) in Antarc­ti­ca. And then there’s K2 (28,251 feet). Nobody has climbed the Sec­ond Seven.

King Peak isn’t look­ing so big anymore.

Down­climb­ing the sum­mit ridge. Our sum­mit day was 15 hours. 

Descend­ing to Mac­Carthy Gap.

We GPS’d through an ever-present fog lay­er from 10 to 9,000 feet. Just like the fog that hangs from 9,000 to 10,500 on Denal­i’s West Buttress.

Back at Base Camp! We con­sid­ered rationing the beer in case Paul could­n’t pick us up for a few days. We did­n’t ration. We sat for 48 hours. In the grand spec of things it was­n’t too rough. The first ascent team had bones gleam­ing through black­ened toes as they walked and float­ed back to McCarthy.

We were cozy in our sacs at 10:30 pm when Paul flew in with his drill sar­gent, pack-your-crap-NOW! rou­tine. Pack­ing took us ten min­utes. He said only George Dunn has packed faster.

After a bug­gy night at the Ulti­ma Thule airstrip Paul flew us back to Chiti­na and we drove home. 

Back in Anchor­age. Thanks for an unfor­get­table trip guys!! (We may look sharp in this pho­to but we haven’t show­ered in 21 days.)”

- Joe Stock