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.