David Foster poses in front of Mt. Foster before the ascent up the boundary peak on May 31. Submitted by David Foster

Mt. Foster summit eludes climbers
Weather, wide gap prevent team from reaching goal

David Foster, who along with three climbing partners, hoped to be the first modern team to reach the summit of Mt. Foster on the U.S.-Canada border, were stopped 200 vertical feet short of their goal on May 31.
The team successfully traversed the glacier leading up to the mountain, located 24 miles northwest of Skagway where the boundary makes its jog westward from Southeast Alaska toward the Interior. But Foster said that after they reached their high camp at the base of the 7,127-foot peak, the weather socked in.
“We had zero to a quarter mile visibility, high winds, sleet and rain,” he said. “For two days we didn’t get out of our tents.
“When it cleared that Friday, we got up as far as we could get and ran into a rock wall. We felt like we could reach out and touch it.”
At its peak, the mountain has several spires, and Foster wasn’t sure which one was the true summit. A 20-foot gap separated the team from one of them, but they only had equipment for snow and ice climbs, not technical rock climbing, he said.
“Of course we’re disappointed that we didn’t make the summit, but it was a very worthwhile trip,” he said after arriving back in Skagway on June 3.
“We had excellent leadership,” he said. “We navigated two crevasse fields and saw a number of avalanches and rock falls.”
He credited David Ehlers and Luke Murray of South Face Guides for their conservative climbing approach. On their first day on the glacier, they trained Foster and Ross Bamford in snow rescue techniques.
Foster said he may return to try to summit the peak, which was named for John Foster (no relation), the U.S. Secretary of State at the time of the 1903 Alaska Boundary Tribunal.
According to the American Alpine Club’s records, there has been no recorded successful ascent of the peak. Foster had hoped to be the first to reach its summit, or confirm whether anyone had made an unrecorded ascent for a boundary survey in the early 1900s.

Bike relay pedals into 10th year
At least six Skagway teams to compete

Curt Dodd, captain of Blood, Sweat and Gears, and his 8-person bike team have been training for tomorrow’s 10th Annual Kluane to Chilkat International Bike Relay. Part of their training includes riding at least three days a week, often up to Customs, and some ride to work. Last year, Dodd’s team, formerly Family Jewells, took second out of 104, 8-person teams and 15th overall. The team is made up of essentially the same people, Dodd said, but the name has changed.
“We have a really good group of guys,” Dodd said. “We’re out for fun.”
Like Dodd, approximately 1,200 bike riders will compete in the 148.4 mile race starting at Haines Junction, Yukon Territory and finishing at the Fort Seward Barracks in Haines. The course is divided into eight legs, 12 to 25 miles each.
Last year, Skagway teams competed in the 185-team race, eight of which placed in the top 10 in their divisions.
Maybe six Skagway teams will compete, Christoph Noel of Skagway’s Sockeye Cycle said, but there’s no way to know how many teams are from Skagway until race day.
The race has a maximum limit of 1,200 riders, which is normally met or the number of riders comes close to it, race committee member Steve Williams said.
“That’s as big as the race can get without it being unwieldy,” he said. “I can’t imagine there being any more than that.”
Team groupings include one, two, four and eight-person men/women/mixed & open tandem and recumbent teams.
“There are quite a few four- and eight-person teams this year,” Noel said. This is the second year solo teams will be entered in the race, he said, adding there are more solo bikers this year than last.
The solo, two- and four-person teams start at 8:30 a.m. Yukon Time and the recumbent and eight-person teams start at 9 a.m. The race will finish between 3 and 10 p.m. with the awards Sunday at 9 a.m. at Fort Seward Tribal House in Haines.
The non-profit race began a decade ago by a group of individuals in Whitehorse, Haines and Haines Junction, Williams said. Most of the riders are from Whitehorse, with some coming from as far away as Anchorage.

Race results will be available later this week at HainesAK.com/bikerelay