Bomb weather forecast and spring temps made me get the climbing itch so I asked around and finally rounded up a group. Our plan was to head up McRoberts Creek, traverse over Matanuska Peak and then attempt the Northwest Couloir of Frontier Peak. A big climb, a big approach - and as a result our packs were big and full of ropes, tents, food and even screws and pins.
Dan Boccia, Mike Miller, Yvonne and I set off - but 10 minutes into the trip the icy trail turned to mud and we spent about 2 hours slogging uphill in mud and knee deep rotten snow. Objectives began to change fast but no one wanted to throw in the towel so we kept going. It was a full 2 hours until we could put on our skis, and then another 2 hours up to a flat spot around 3500' where we looked up at the south face of Matanuska Peak and decided to drop our packs.
Knowing that we didn't have it in us to haul our gear over the pass, we set up camp and then began trudging up hill in the hopes of checking out the pass down to Frontier and then on towards the top of Matanuska Peak for an evening view.
We reached the col in about an hour and a-half and quickly put all thoughts of attempting Frontier out of our minds. Compared to last year the couloir is bony and looks like it has a dangerously thin snowpack over rock. Not only that but doing the route in a day and getting home from the base of Mat Peak would be a long (15-18 hour) day.
We stashed the skis and continued the remaining 500' of talus up the top of Matanuska Peak. We stood around admiring the beautiful views in all directions, then turned and headed back down to our skis.
Dan and I then skied the SE gully which is a beautiful 2500' run that snaked down a long canyon right back to our camp. A wonderful evening hanging out on tundra (!) and a spectacular sunset were followed by a deep sleep. Up in the morning around 8:30am, a leisurely breakfast, packing and off around 11ish for an awesome hard pack run down to wet sloppy snow and then mud.
Giant packs for what is usually a day trip - but at least I can say I now know what the route on Frontier looks like and have an idea of how to get there and get it done. Any takers?
Frontier in April 2010
Frontier in April 2011
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