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South Buttress_Wyoming Rib Variation T 
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South Buttress_Wyoming Rib Variation 

AI3-4 M3 Steep Snow PG13

   
Type:  Trad, Mixed, Ice, Snow, Alpine, 3000'
Consensus: AI3-4 M3 [details]
FA: May 1988. Andy Carson, Zack Etheridge, Charles Crago, John Chaklos, Bill Alexander
Season: May-July
Page Views: 1,018
Submitted By: OldsCool on Sep 26, 2012

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BETA PHOTO: Upper South Buttress showing from about 16,000 fee...

Register with the NP Mountaineering Headquarters in Talkeetna, AK before climbing in the park!

Description 

The Wyoming Rib Variation is the convex snowy ridge south of the Japanese Ramp which starts around 13,000 feet elevation on the East Fork-Kahilta Glacier. Route finding is involved in the lower section and likely varies from season to season. The FA crux was a 1/2 pitch of 70 degree snow / ice mix. The Rib tops out on the main South Buttress Ridge at about 15,500 then traverses that for about 1 mile and over a high point at 15,885 el. to join the top of the Japanese Ramp.
1-2 days of recon on the lower 1/3 may be needed to get to more obvious terrain. A protected area for a camp was found at 14,200 feet el. on the first ascent.

Brad Washburn suggested this unclimbed variation to the 1988 Wyoming Denali Expedition Team members as an alternative to the more avalanche prone Japanese Ramp. The idea was further reinforced after witnessing a Colorado team that had started up the Japanese Ramp, set off a small but impressive avalanche.

From the top of the Japanese Ramp, follow the South Buttress Ridge proper to South Col, 15,570 feet el. then easily onto the huge plateau below the upper South Buttress.

The Japanese Route continues up the wide and obvious snow (or ice) slope on the west side of the plateau. The Wyoming team found ice conditions on this slope requiring the fixing of more rope than they had. An alternative, hidden, narrow couloir was found to the south and west of the original route.
200 feet of mixed climbing up to possibly M3 gains the west edge of the original route ice slope around 16,200 feet el., above its steepest section.
It’s likely that the alternative had been used previously as I heard Michael Covington coincidentally describe it not long after the FA of the Wyoming Rib.

Continue up moderate snow and easy mixed terrain to a spectacular camp at the base of a Rock Buttress adjacent to a long steep couloir at 17,800 feet. Be prepared to chop tent platforms.

The original/traditional route climbs the long couloir. The Wyoming team climbed moderate M1-2 terrain to the east of the camp (a number of variations exist) to the open snow field above, adjoining the top of the long couloir
Moderate snow climbing gains the ridge at 18,960 feet el. Easy snow walking continues to a slight climb up the Carter Horn (can be skirted) where the summit can be seen, seemingly far away unless there are people standing on/around it.

Reverse to the top of the long couloir where seven 50-meter long rappels will take you back to the camp at 17,800 feet. Summiting from 17,800 foot camp may take up to 9 hours.
Continue descending as per the ascent.

Protection 

Pickets. flukes, few ice screws.


Photos of South Buttress_Wyoming Rib Variation Slideshow Add Photo
“Psycho-Killer” cornice at 15,500 feet along the South Buttress Ridge in May 1988.
“Psycho-Killer” cornice at 15,500 feet along the S...
Psycho-Killer traverse at 15,500 feet on the South Buttress Ridge, May 1988. “P-K cornice" in back ground.
Psycho-Killer traverse at 15,500 feet on the South...
Upper route showing Wyoming Team ascent and descent routes and 17,800 foot camp location. Carter Horn is the “false" summit in photo. True summit is beyond.
BETA PHOTO: Upper route showing Wyoming Team ascent and descen...
Andy Carson leading the FA crux of the Wyoming Rib Variation in May 1988.  East Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier is seen below
Andy Carson leading the FA crux of the Wyoming Rib...
The Rib is sunlit and rises left to right from the upper East Fork Kahiltna Glacier to the crest of the South Buttress. The Radio Tower is visible behind the Rib. Chuck Crago photo.
The Rib is sunlit and rises left to right from the...
Two mountain travelers taking a break... at ease on the East Fork.
Two mountain travelers taking a break... at ease o...

Comments on South Buttress_Wyoming Rib Variation Add Comment
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By George Bell
From: Boulder, CO
Mar 19, 2014

We made a quick dash from our camp on the South Col to the summit and back in about 15 hours, but we had perfect weather and snow conditions.