Correction to Secor, Packsaddle Pass

by Tom Kenney
I climbed a peak which has a 30-year-old register on top, but is not even mentioned in The Book. "Matthes Peak" is the less-complex peak south of Packsaddle Lake, with an elevation of ~13,000 ft. (just under, according to the 7.5 topo). The register (the original scrap of paper and a new register placed by Barbara Lilley and Gordon McCloud (?) in 1982) says that the first recorded ascent was made via the south ridge from Evolution Valley by Andy Smatko and 3 others, including Tom Ross, but does not mention the date. A later entry in the newer pad speculates that the ascent was made some time in the summer of 1968. Smatko notes in his entry that a cairn was found on top. Other entries indicate that the peak has been climbed also via the East Ridge (probably class 3) and my route, the West Ridge (easy class 2 except for below note).

I climbed the above peak via "Packsaddle Pass" on the Glacier Divide. Upon my return home, I looked this pass up in The Book, and had to laugh at the class 2 rating and no mention of some stern obstacles along the route. From Packsaddle Lake, there are two ways to approach the Matthes Glaciers below the afforementioned peak - climb a dangerously loose slope directly below the moraines, or climb a more stable talus field on the left to some unlikely-looking slabs between the loose slope and the talus, then climb ledges up the slabs to a point level with the top of the first moraine. Head west and cross the moraines and glacier to approach the pass. The last 50 feet of the pass are the tough part. In lower snow years (most years) there may well be a 'steep class 2' route here, as per Secor's description. This year, there was a wall (nearly a cornice) of very steep, soft snow, which I skirted on the right via class 4 rock.


The information provided in these pages is provided by interested volunteers and has not been field checked. R.J. Secor, The Mountaineers and the Sierra Club are in no way responsible for the accuracy of any route advice on this web site. Safe climbers must be able to understand the terrain and topography of the area they travel in, and they must make wise route finding choices based their own knowledge, experience and observations.