Mt. Byron is one of the most beautiful roadside peaks in Alaska. The crux is hitting the weather and route conditions just right. Portage valley is one of the wettest, snowiest places in the world. Park at the Byron Glacier TH. Mt. Byron is the prominent peak at the head of the valley. Take care on the approach, this area is a huge terrain trap for avi's. If you survive the terrain trap, gain a small hanging glacier on the west side of the valley and then boot pack/scramble up to the col of the West Ridge. The West ridge is a very corniced knife ridge, it is wise to rope up for the ridge (people have died on this ridge). Send it to the summit. For the descent either go back down the ridge or ski down the steep 50 degree headwall for a classic skimountaineering route, there is a bergshrund on the head wall.
Glacier travel kit and pickets.
BETA PHOTO: Looking down from the col. You can see what a terr...
Fun ridge climbing.
Skiing the headwall
|By David Hertel|
Mar 23, 2014
Went up the West Ridge today. We got about 1/3 up the ridge from the col before hitting hard rime and blue ice. We only had 1 screw and our pickets wouldn't go up high. I tried chopping a slot for deadmen, but it was all blue ice 1 1/2 inches under the surface rime. I recommend 5 long screws on a running belay and 3 pickets for gear. Also, my straight axe was very difficult to place since there was no proper snow to plunge in. At the moment, a set of technical tools would be nice on this route.
Present conditions: AI 2+ Grade III
PS: Be prepared to leave some slings or potentially be doing a lot of shitty down climbing with high consequence.