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Devils Thumb, Alaska
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mulisha64


Jun 21, 2003, 6:48 AM
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Devils Thumb, Alaska
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I am looking for any and all info on this summit. anything will help, thank you


akrock


Jun 21, 2003, 7:21 AM
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I have never climbed Devils thumb in Petersburg but I'm from Juneau, Alaska (another southeast town) so i know a bit about mountain conditions in southeast. Avoid April and May, this time of year weather is nice but it is also starting to warm up making the mountain more prone to avalanche dangers. I've climbed a few mountains in the spring in juneau and this to be the case. Two climbers from canada recently died on the Thumb this spring. IN April of course. It sounds like a killer climb and i'd like to do it but make sure you do mad research and maybe talk to some local climbers if there are any before you go
best of luck


hammer_


Jun 21, 2003, 4:35 PM
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Lost on Devil's Thumb
Two B.C. climbers have apparently died trying to scale what's called North America's 'biggest wall of steepness.


Thursday, April 24, 2003

VANCOUVER - Two experienced Vancouver climbers are missing and presumed dead in an avalanche during a high-risk ascent of a glacier peak on the Alaska-B.C. border.

On April 13, Guy Edwards and John Millar started a fast ascent of the never-before-climbed northern face of the Devil's Thumb, a remote 2,700-metre peak about 50 kilometres northeast of the Alaskan fishing village of Petersburg.

A third member of their team, Kai Hirvonen, 33, stayed at the base camp and could see their head lamps for several hours before losing sight of them early the following morning.

When Mr. Edwards, 30, and Mr. Millar, 24, did not appear several days later as expected, Mr. Hirvonen hiked out of the icefields and went for help.

On Saturday, after being informed the pair was missing, Alaska search and rescue officials sent helicopters.

"We believe they were probably struck by an avalanche and the odds of surviving ... are almost zero," Lieut. Chuck Lamica, the search and rescue co-ordinator for the Alaska state troopers said Tuesday.

"It's too dangerous to try to put searchers on the ground there to check any of these avalanche debris piles to see if they might be in there."

They suspended the search on Tuesday.

Lieut. Lamica said the avalanche activity in the area was "very high" and Devil's Thumb has attracted mountaineers from around the world.

"At this time of year, it's just basically one avalanche after another up there. The area around the mountain is surrounded by glaciers and icefields."

Dieter Klose, an area expert who says he's climbed higher up the extremely steep face than anyone, said the family of one of the climbers has hired a helicopter to continue the search.

"I feel the state troopers are justified in calling off the search at this point. However, I told the mom that if it were my son up there, I'd keep looking. Not that I think I'm going to find anything, but for peace of mind."

Mr. Klose says he communicated by e-mail with the climbers before their ascent and says they were "well aware of the risks."

"I did not know these people, but we were kindred spirits," said Mr. Klose, 44, who climbed halfway up the face in 1982. "I have a close connection to that face. All the climbers who come through town generally look me up. It's very, very tragic."

Mr. Klose said he had spoken to Mr. Hirvonen after he got back from the mountain and learned from him that the climbers had tried to climb "very, very fast" in order to get beyond the dangerous fall line of the glacier.

"These guys were really good climbers from what I understand, just top-notch guys, doing everything right," he said. "Nothing has been found of them. We saw no evidence. I've flown the mountain a couple of times."

Mr. Klose called the face "maybe the biggest wall of that steepness" in all of North America.

"The problem with that face ... is that it's very, very dangerous. There is a hanging glacier on it and both sides of the face are also massive hanging glaciers that could cut loose at any time of the night or day."

On a climbing Web site, Mr. Edwards described a previous trip he had made to the Devil's Thumb.

"It's kinda like the North American Patagonia, bad weather and all. We had two good days out of 21 and the forecast was calling for more bad weather, so we bailed."


rockprodigy


Jun 23, 2003, 5:09 PM
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http://naclassics.com

There's a trip report there...let me know if you have any questions

http://www.alaskaone.com/temscoair/

Currently the only charter flying service in the area, but they may not be flying into the Thumb anymore...talk to Wally. If he won't fly you, the only way to get there is to take a boat over to the Baird Glacier and hike up from there. This makes for good access to the Witches Cauldron (North aspects), but it would be very difficult to get to the South Face route from via the Baird...would be several days of round-about hiking.


marcel


Jun 26, 2003, 5:58 PM
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My wife and I tried the Thumb in August of 1998. The weather forced us off when we had over 10 feet of snow in 4 days, not to mention the 100 mile per hour winds.

Dieter Klose of Petersburg was a big help to us and he knows more about the area than anyone. I think he has been on the summit tiwce.

Temsco Helicopter out of Petersburg is a good option for access in and out. However there is several other routes other than the mentioned Baird. In 1946 Fred Becky and his group came in via the Great Glacier and I know of two other glacier routes that have been used.

Good luck and have fun.


rockprodigy


Jun 27, 2003, 7:45 PM
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Dieter doesn't live in Petersburg anymore. I think he got sucked in to the black hole of...ugh...Boulder.

The route that Becky took involved boating up the Stikine river, bushwacking, then travelling 20 or so miles across glaciers...I think the Baird would be easier, you can go around under Mt. Burkett, and the Burkett Needle which would be much shorter than Becky's route.

Like I said, Temsco may not be flying climbers in any more...talk to Wally.


far_east_climber


Nov 16, 2003, 1:46 PM
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The Devils Thumb [In reply to]
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I was wondering if anybodies heard of the rock The Devils Thumb.. I think it's in Alaska.. i read something about it in the book Into the Wild by Jon Krakeur (the book on Chris McCandless).. in the book, Krakauer gives a personal account on his free-soloing off the devils thumb... it was part rock and ice... it sounded incredible... he was alone for 6 months.. nearly died 3 times on the thumb if i recall right... ok anyway, to the point... anybody heard of the devils thumb? know of the location? have any pics or know anyone who's climbed it?

if you haven't read the book... it's a good book... not just for the extracts of the devil thumb climbing but also for the autobiographical content concerning Chris..,...


sim


Nov 17, 2003, 12:29 AM
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Jon Krakauer's short story about Devil Thumb is also in the book Epic: Stories of Survival from the World's Highest Peaks. Good book. Lots of short stories and excerpts by some great climbing writers.

It is described as a remote Alaskan peak that he had to access by skiing across the Stikine Icecap. That is all I can tell you.

I will second the endorsement of "Into the Wild" Very good read.


bubba


Nov 17, 2003, 12:47 AM
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Yeah.
From what I understand, there are a few acents each year. A few promintant Squamish climbers went missing on an attempt this past year.
Use your brain.


clmbng_addict


Nov 17, 2003, 12:57 AM
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"Into The Wild" is awesome, one of my favorite books.

If you search on this site, there have been a few other threads about Devil's Thumb over the past few months, those should give you a little info. As far as i know, the north face still remains unclimbed. I think the popular route is up the southeast (?) face.


rockprodigy


Nov 19, 2003, 12:56 AM
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It didn't take him 6 months...I think it was 3 or so. He did it solo which is very dangerous. It's about 5 miles of glacier travel up the Baird Glacier which he did on skis with large metal poles strapped to him in case he fell in a crevasse. He was trying to solo the North Face, which is still unclimbed. He failed. He then "allegedly" went around to the Southeast face and soloed it via a new route which was a variation on the Beckey Route. I say "allegedly" because there is some doubt among people who live in the area.

First off, getting from the Witches Cauldron to the south side of the mountain would be quite death-defying by yourself. It is an active icefall. Second, his description of the route he climbed doesn't match what I saw on the peak. He described "nice, incut holds", whereas, I saw downward sloping exfoliating slabs. Finally, his name was not anywhere to be found on the summit register.

All we can do is take him at his word, however. I was there in July, he was there in April, I think? So it's possible his route was much easier then. It's also likely that the summit register was buried in snow when he would have been there, so I can't say I'm too surprised that he didn't sign it.

I have some photos at:

www.naclassics.com

It is certainly one of the most impressive peaks in the world. The north face is one of the "last great problems" and has repulsed many of the world's best, including Alex Lowe.


jtreelizard


Nov 19, 2003, 1:21 AM
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I belive that Jon also wrote about his climb of the Devil's Thumb in Eiger Dreams, a collection of climbing related short stories. All of his books are very well written.


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Nov 23, 2003, 1:06 PM
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if you want to see a picture of the devil's thumb, there is one in the current american alpine journal...i think the west face of it is being heralded as "unclimbable" you game?


rockprodigy


Nov 25, 2003, 12:27 AM
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it's the north face


jello


Nov 25, 2003, 12:34 AM
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Then Krakauer decided to smoke his 'summit cigar' early and burned a nice XL hole in his ol'mans tent.

Must have been Quite the 'Summit Cigar'! :lol:


bigwalling


Nov 25, 2003, 2:12 AM
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It's unclimbed and 2 great climbers died on it last year.


akicebum


Nov 26, 2003, 4:08 AM
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Get ready for rain, a lot of time in tent and plenty of frustration if you intend to do anything in the Coast Range. If you are interested in just getting up it I would pick up Colby Coombs Alaska: a climbing guide. The Thumb is an awesome formation and would be a sweet climb.


mtclmb


Nov 26, 2003, 5:46 AM
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it is near Petersburg, Alaska. 2 climbers died on it this year, and another died when their rope snapped. There are 2 peaks up here in Southeast Alaska, and people mistaken them from each other. Devil's Paw which is on the Juneau Ice Field, borders the border of Alaska/B.C., and Devils Thumb farther south near Petersburg.

Look at my photos and you'll see Devils Paw.

TOUGH mountain with very very few accents. Many tradegies on that mountain.

cheers
tom


atchafalaya


Dec 9, 2003, 10:14 PM
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Just went to the devils Thumb in June of 2003. Incredible place. As all the other posts indicate, expect bad weather and conditions being out of shape. Approached the Thumb from Burkett Needle, up through Burkett Icefall. Only saw the thumb break through the clouds for an hour during a fifteen day stay. I plan on going back but next time in April... need cold conditions which we never saw. After getting our asses handed to us, we skied around to the Witches cauldron and ended up getting plucked out of there by copter. As we skied, we passed by numerous unclimbed peaks resembling WA column, Leaning Tower, Matthes Crest and some really huge peaks up the Oasis glacier. A devils thumb trip is worth every penny...


marcel


Dec 10, 2003, 12:35 AM
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In reply to:
A devils thumb trip is worth every penny...

I agree! my wife and I went there in 98. Like ever one else we had to put up with the weather, but living in Southeast Alaska is all about putting up with weather. We had around 10 feet of snow in 4 days while we were there trying to do the east ridge. I'd love to go back, but as already said it's all about hitting a few good days of cold clear weather.


crazyakclimber


Apr 5, 2005, 5:52 AM
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Ok, first of all, anybody who mentions climbing Devils Thumb is comletly insane and second of all you will never live to see your mom again! Trust me.


rockprodigy


Apr 5, 2005, 6:18 PM
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Hmm, kinda weird to drudge this up. I climbed it in '02. It was a fun climb, except that one of my best friends was killed by rockfall while we were waiting to fly out.


mountain1maniac


Apr 5, 2005, 6:38 PM
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Pete Takeda wrote an article about the mountain in R&I in the last few years. Also, Dieter Klose wrote a feature article in one of the last 3 AAJ's. Takeda's article cites Klose living in Fort Collins, not Boulder. Do a search. There was a thread about this within the last year. You might also want to look in the AAJ index to find accounts of the earlier ascents.


paulraphael


Apr 5, 2005, 6:57 PM
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more for the great story than for beta, but be sure to check out John Krakauer's story on the Thumb ... it's in his book Eiger Dreams.


dynosore


Apr 5, 2005, 7:29 PM
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Either the 02 or 03 AAJ has a nice writeup. You can get them on amazon used, cheap. Do you know what you're getting in to?

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