Success on Mt Kennedy for Jon Bracey and Rich Cross

Jon Bracey and Rich Cross have just returned from the first ascent of the NW face of Mt Kennedy (4238m), St Elias Mountains, in the Yukon. "The scariest times were during the traumatic flight into the mountains with the small Cessna plane repeatedly appearing to almost drop out of the sky".

Having landed safely but unfortunately 8 km from the mountain, they wasted no time and skied to the bottom of the face the next day and started climbing the following morning. With good weather on their side, they made good progress the first day climbing mainly ice up to Scottish grade VI and one hard mixed pitch, grade VII.

A reasonable night's sleep was had inside their hanging bivi tent, despite only having a bum seat ledge cut from an ice slope. The second day saw them break out from the steep, rocky lower half of the face and onto ice fields. A second bad bivouac was spent below the final rock band, knowing that only bad weather could stop them.

A stunning cloud inversion greeted them in the morning and after five mixed pitches up to grade VI, they had completed the final technical difficulties. A long slog onwards, slowed by high winds blasting their faces with ice particles, eventually saw them on the summit by late afternoon on the third day.

After a long walk off the back onto the Cathedral Glacier, they were happy to be picked up two days later looking like a pair of greyhounds and with minimal rations left.

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