Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


By CVN Staff 

Fairweather climbers to speak at museum


May 20, 2010

 Members of an eight-member climbing team that recently took on Mount Fairweather will speak 7 p.m. Friday at the Sheldon Museum.

Speakers will include Gerry Roach of Boulder, Colo ., the second person to bag the "Seven Summits," the tallest peaks on the world’s seven continents. Roach, 66, has climbed every peak in North America over 16,000 feet, although 15,300-foot Fairweather has eluded him twice, including on the recent trip.

"In a nutshell, the peak doesn’t get summitted very often. It’s tough. We were all trying, but one by one, we pooped out," Roach said in an interview this week.

Wayne Herrick, a 42-year-old climber from Lakewood, Colo ., was one of two members of the team to make it to the top of the Fairweather.

Despite its name, weather at the mountain’s top is "generally horrendous" and hazardous conditions include a steep slope with deep snow that covers glacial crevasses climbers must dodge. "You can’t slip and fall. You have to be careful where you place each step," Herrick said.

Since 1931, an average of fewer than four climbers have made it to Fairweather’s summit each year.

The Colorado-based climbing team was out eight days and started from Grand Plateau Glacier, at about 9,900 feet elevation. The climbers spent more than two days pinned in their tents by foul weather and had to break camp in near-whiteout conditions.

"The snow was piling up above us and we were afraid it was going to slide down and wipe out the camp," Roach said. "Every time you hit reality on these mountains, it’s harder than you think."

The two members of the group reached the summit Monday. Temperatures there were about 0 F. with an icy wind.