Expedition report from prolific climber and alpinist, Jay Smith. Jay has been climbing for "longer than he cares to admit," and put up nearly 2,000 new routes across the world. His climbing partner, Jim Donini, is another prolific man of the mountains who was president of the American Alpine Club from 2006 to 2009 and is known for his routes in Patagonia and Alaska. Words and images by Jay Smith.
Not all expeditions go as planned. Read on to see how these two experienced alpinists responded to adverse conditions and tough decisions.
Cerro San Lorenzo is the second highest peak in Patagonia. It lies at 47º south latitude, in-between the northern and southern Patagonia ice caps, the only ice caps (an ice mass covering less than 50,000 square kilometers) outside of the poles. At 12,170’ it is not particularly high, but do to it’s location, less than 50 linear miles from the Pacific, on the Chilean/Argentine border, it experiences some of the worst weather on the planet. Indeed, it’s 6 mile summit plateau, which is almost completely adorned with overhanging seracs and cornices, presents formidable obstacles which defend it’s 3 summits. Just to find safe passage between these is a challenge. That, coupled with atrocious winds that can easily exceed 100 mph sweeping the summit, makes it a very difficult mountain to attain by any route. Other than the normal route, a walk-up via glacier travel, there are only 2 other climbs on the mountain that have been completed, though many have been attempted.
A trip report from AMGA/IFMGA Mountain Guide Jediah Porter.
Human adventures are like caribou antlers; born soft and fuzzy with hope. Really, both start as just an idea, deep in one’s DNA. As they take shape, before they even take action, they are gentle and virtually unnoticeable. The promise of their power and prominence is there, but the scratched, hormonal, prideful reality is yet to be revealed.
For us, the climb and ski of Alaska’s Mount Sanford started as just a tiny, incubating idea in a teenager’s soul. In Wildsnow, the definitive tome on North American ski mountaineering, guru (and now mentor) Lou Dawson mentions the Sheep Glacier route on Mount Sanford as perhaps the ultimate mid-difficulty ski run on a giant peak. I stumbled across that literally 20 years ago, and the idea has simmered since then.
My wife Meagan and I booked some guiding work in Alaska in the spring of 2016, and looked to tack on a personal adventure. The time was right, the team was right, Mount Sanford was the call.