On June 25th Yvonne and I opted to give Bold Peak (7522') a try. We drove to Eklutna on Saturday morning and by 8:45 am were biking in. The bike ride (10 1/2 miles) went by fairly quickly despite us not having biked more than once this summer. By 10 am we had cached our bikes, changed and began hiking down the East Fork of the Eklutna trail.
The trail leading up the East Fork of the Eklutna was in good shape and we made quick progress and soon reached the spot where the creek coming out of Stivers Gully crosses the trail. Here we poked around in the brush for a few minutes looking for the trail and soon found it leading upstream on the east side of the creek. We followed it up, crossing back and forth on either side and by 10:30 had emerged from the brush onto the talus slopes that make up the base of Stivers Gully. This spot is easily recognized by the multiple cairns; when you see them just hang a right and start heading uphill. The trail is hard to find at first but eventually there is a good path on climbers left side of the creek.
From that point on, the route was fast and straight forward. I fully expected a much harder route but the climb is essentially a huge scree gully that is pretty low angle. We cruised up the lower talus slopes until we entered a canyon-like feature with huge walls on either side. This portion had snow in it so the walking was even faster. At 12 we reached the portion of the route where the canyon constricts and you're forced to ascend a steep gully and finally crawl up an exposed rock rib. There is a fixed rope here which, in dry sunny weather, isn't needed; however in wet conditions it is much appreciated (as we were to find out).
Above the fixed rope we ascended a steep grassy ramp and then followed a series of sheep trails until we reached a large open bowl at around 4500'. There was still a fair amount of snow in the bowl so we continued to make good time and soon were on the final slopes leading to the summit. Once on the final slopes we continued to make good time although by now our legs were starting to hurt!
Up until this point we had good views and were able to check out Bashful and the Eklutna Glacier, however once we ascended above 6000' the clouds rolled in and we were forced to hike the final 1000' in a thick cloud.
We reached the top at 3:30. The clouds were kind enough to part briefly and give us a glimpse of Elkutna Lake and we sat around enjoying the view and thumbing through the register. However, it soon began to snow so we packed up and began heading down.
As we descended, the snow turned to rain and we began jogging down hoping to get below the section with the fixed ropes before it got too slick. Luckily the rain held off until we were back down on the lower talus slopes - and then the skies opened up and it began pouring.
We hiked out to the bikes in rain and then rode the final 10 miles back to the trailhead in a driving rain. In all it took us 12 hours to bike 21 miles, hike 8 miles and climb 7000'.
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