composite above looks southwest from the pass. Denali is just
out of sight of the near ridge, far right. Last year I finally
began planning a personal journey to return to this pass and possibly climb
Mount Mather (Mount Mather is the tallest mountain in composite section-left).
My approach in in June, 2003 returned me to the pass where these photos
were taken. From there I planned to descend South down to the
Muldrow (lower half of composite-left). This higher section of the
Muldrow is somewhat more navigable than the Lower Muldrow Moraine.
The approach to Mather proceeds west, up the Muldrow toward the nearer
canyon seen lower left composite-right. Turning south, one follows that
canyon either up a glacier chute similar to the one seen above, feeding
the Muldrow, composite-left - or rapidly ascends on the western slope of
the canyon (hidden) to gain access to the ridge that leads to Mather's
peak. To give you a sense of scale, these photos were taken
at an elevation of 6000 ft. Mount Mather is 12,134 ft elevation.
The width of the Muldrow, lower left, is 1.8 miles. Finally,
the rise in elevation from the Muldrow to the top of the chute, far upper
left, is 5500 ft.
my partner, Dan Fox, and I arrived at this pass, we'd already used one
of our 'buffer' days crossing the lower Muldrow glacier moraine, only to
discover the aforementioned chute would truly be impassable as an access
route to the ridge. The only other route we'd considered, up a steep
access point on the western wall of the far hidden canyon, we later learned
would have been equally impassable by dint of lack of snow cover from the
previous winter. We were, in classic billiards parlance, 'snookered'.
We lingered a few days at the pass, blithely shooting away rolls of film,
before descending and returning home - but not before committing to return
in 2005 to attempt either Mt. Brooks, 11K feet or Mt. Silverthrone (farther
up valley on the Muldrow) at 13K feet. We're hooked now. Now
to find a guide versed in Alaskan alpine travel above 9000 vertical feet.
N'est pas moi.