On Sunday we hiked in to try Korohusk from Eagle River. The initial trail up through the brush was good - but we soon lost it and had a good bush whack session before re-finding the trail somewhere around 2000'. We reached the hanging valley after 4 hours of hiking and we rewarded with a glimpse of the peak. The route takes the obvious series of gullies that go right up to the summit. We started with the lower right gully, traversed left and then connected a series of scree and snow gullies to reach the upper snowfields.
The lower couloir was around 35 degrees but near the top we climbed through a tight section that steepened to around 50. We came up this way but I was not comfortable with the deep snow runnels which would make self arrest difficult - so on the descent we traversed far to skiers right and descended scree slopes.
Just as we reached the base of the rocky section (between the lower and upper couloirs) the clouds rolled in and it started to hail. For a while we sat around trying to decide what to do... but then a break in the clouds appeared and we decided to keep going.
We picked a way through the rocky section which was a mixture of snow, rock and running water and finally made the upper snowfields. Once we reached the upper section the clouds rolled in thick. However - we were almost there and could smell the summit so we pressed on.
We finally reached the top of the couloir and turned and started kicking steps up the final 250' to the summit. After a few steps we heard a rumble somewhere to the north - at first I thought it was a jet but then realized it was thunder! I told Yvonne to pull her helmet off and I checked her hair for static - it was staying put and we couldn't smell the electricity so we decided to risk it and continued on. We kept going and the thunder kept getting nearer... Finally I reached a flat section - the summit was a mere 20' beyond me when I heard yet another rumble. "If we hear thunder one more time we're going down" I told Yvonne - and suddenly we heard a pop and crash very close by! "DOWN!" I yelled and we turned and flew back down to the col - thunder rolling all around us. Back at the col we threw our ice axes in a pile and removed harnesses. I grabbed my insulite pad out of my pack, some extra clothes and food and we ran down the ridge until we found an overhanging rock that provided a semblance of protection.
We then put on our extra layer and sat down to wait out the storm. After about 15 minutes the thunder finally passed on. We waited a little longer hoping for visibility so we could try the summit again but the clouds were thick so we opted to descend.
Picking our way through the rocky section between the couloirs was slow going - but we managed to find a way down without having to downclimb the waterfall we had come up.
We finally reached the valley floor where the sun was shining bright. The summit remained shrouded though so we turned our backs on it and began the long haul back down to Eagle River Valley and out to the car. In all we were out 14 hours, hiked 14 miles and climbed 6,600'. If we had visibility it would have taken a few hours less -- but we would have been just as tired!
Korohusk Peak S. Face - 4th Class, 7,030'
- Route: Hike up the Eagle River trail for approximately 4 miles. After you pass the "Perch" you will drop downhill and be hiking along a flat spot. At this point there will be a faint trail leading uphill; right next to it is a sign that says "Trail" and pointing to the right (the sign refers to the Crow Pass trail). Take the faint trail that begins as a game trail - meaning you'll lose it and find it often. Follow it uphill but continue to angle up and right. After about 20-30 minutes of travel you should hit the main trail that follows a ridge line above and west of Dishwater Creek. Follow the trail until you reach tree line where you will exit into a hanging valley. Hike up this valley to the left of the moraine until you reach the south face of Korohusk. Ascend the scree or snow (depending on the season) slopes and then traverse E about 400' until you reach a section of 4th class rock that is (climbers) right of a waterfall. In early season this waterfall will be totally filled in with snow. Ascend this rock band to the upper snow couloir which you then ascend to the summit. This route is best done in mid-late May when there is still snow in the couloir. The base and waterfall pitch tends to melt out by early June.
- Gear: Ice axe, crampons and mountain boots if done in early season. It has been done in sneakers in late season.
- Time: 12-14 hours car to car.
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