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Stikine Ice Cap

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Devil's Thumb 

Stikine Ice Cap 


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Elevation: 5,000'
Location: 57, -132.3 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 37,785
Administrators: Jared LaVacque, Dommelhiemer, Kristine Hoffman
Submitted By: Monomaniac on Feb 24, 2009
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Burkett Needle (L) and Mt Burkett (R) from the air...

Description 

The Southeast panhandle of Alaska is a labyrinthine landscape of massive islands, wandering straits and mysterious mainland mountain ranges. The regionís independent fishing communities are few and far between, connected by complex networks of seaborn ferries and propeller driven air fleets that give the area a frontier feel, where opportunities abound, and the stakes are high.

Along the still disputed Canadian border, just over 100 miles southeast of Juneau, lies a massive network of ice-choked valleys and slicing granite spires known as the Stikine Ice Cap. Summits in this part of the world are not terribly high, and perhaps this has doomed the region to relative obscurity, but what these peaks lack in height they make up for in Napoleonic aggression. Home to such fearsome sights as the Devilís Thumb, Burkett Needle, and the Catís Ear Spires, the Stikine Ice Cap is brimming with possibilities.

This region is known for its uncooperative weather, so any expedition should prepare accordingly. Precipitation is extreme, due to the coastal proximity, and dense fog is pervasive. Ascents in this region have been made at all times of year, though mid to late summer ascents are the most common.


Getting There 

Home to a robust economy based on fishing, logging, and the seasonal Cruise Ship industry, the quaint Scandinavian village of Petersburg, AK provides all the amenities and the perfect jumping-off point for an adventure on the Ice Cap. Alaska Airlines offers service to Petersburg from Seattle and other major Alaskan cities. From Petersburg, air travel to the ice cap can be arranged via TEMSCO Helicopters, Inc www.temscoair.com. Be advised air travel is extremely constrained by weather conditions. Lodging, food & cooking fuel are readily available in town, but climbing-specific equipment is not available. The local city park offers reasonably priced camping for those awaiting a ďThumbís Up DayĒ for air transport.

Another option for the pure of heart (or light of wallet) is to arrange boat transport to the toe of the Baird Glacier and ski/trek up onto the ice cap.


3 Total Routes


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Featured Route For Stikine Ice Cap
The East Ridge (via SE Face) follows the green arrows.  Photo by Greg Donaldson, lifted from 50 Classic Climbs of North America.

East Ridge (via Southeast face) 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Steep Snow  AK : Southeastern Alaska/Coastal... : ... : Devil's Thumb
The first ascent of the Thumb was made via the East Ridge. The climb was an epic adventure, involving two of the most accomplished American alpinists of the era, Fred Beckey & Fritz Wiessner. Weissner was the first climber to explore the Stikine region, on an expedition with Bestor Robinson in 1937. The party attempted Kate's Needle, the highest summit in the region at 10,002', but were defeated by poor weather.Upon the conclusion of the Second World War, Wiessner was anxious to return to the...[more]   Browse More Classics in AK

Photos of Stikine Ice Cap Slideshow Add Photo
The southwest aspect of Devil's Thumb, with the Cat's Ears Spires to the left.  Mt Burkett can be seen off in the distance on the far right.
The southwest aspect of Devil's Thumb, with the Ca...
Flying over Thomas Bay, approaching the Patterson Glacier.  The Thumb is visible on the horizon.
Flying over Thomas Bay, approaching the Patterson ...
Map of the Stikine Ice Cap with key landmarks indicated.
Map of the Stikine Ice Cap with key landmarks indi...
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