On July 9th 2006 I took my brother and nephew up Ptarmigan Couloir. My nephew had never climbed a snow route before (and never even worn crampons!). My brother had done a few moderate snow routes but had never used two ice axes or pickets. They were both pretty stoked! ( Read more... )
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.
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). ( Read more... )
On Friday night June 16th Wayne Todd called us and invited us on an attempt of the North Face of Pioneer. Wayne figured that since there was more snow than usual this summer, what is usually a March - May route was doable and safe this late in the year. For years I had lusted after this route and had never gotten the chance to give it a try so I jumped on the invite.
The North Face of Pioneer is a classic alpine climb that pretty much starts right from the car and ascends snow, ice and rock all the way to the 6,398' summit. You begin the route at 100' and over the course of 1.8 miles climb 6,300'. The route involves a couple easy (5.2ish) rock steps at mid height, followed by close to 2000' of 40-50 degree snow. The final exit pitch steepens to around 60+ degrees and the step is usually ice. To descend the route you must climb 300' of easy but exposed rock (5.4ish) to ascend up and over "Counterpoint" (a false summit to the east) and then rappel twice before finally dropping down into scree gullies and slopes to the bottom.
The next morning Yvonne and I met Wayne, Carrie, Ross and Randy at 6 am on the side of the Glen Highway at the Old Glen Highway exit. We then drove the final 5 miles to the base and by 6:30 am were hiking up the initial scree slopes that line the bottom of the route.
The initial section of the route went quickly as we hiked up a massive avalanche path and remnants until we reached a waterfall that blocked our progress. We passed the waterfall by traversing to the right and climbing 500' up a gully choked with alder and devil's club. We were then able to traverse back to the gully by monkey-barring though a dense thicket of alders. ( Read more... )
On June 11th Yvonne, Anne Gore and I climbed Cantata Peak via the standard route. We began the hike from the South Fork trailhead around 9 am and reached the ridge between Eagle and Symphony lake at 10am and were soon hiking up the drainage that puts you in the large bowl on the north west side of Cantata. We then hiked across this and up and over a bump on the west ridge and were soon hiking across the ridge to the base of the final ridge to the summit.
We reached the base of the final ridge at 11:30 where we stopped and ate lunch. The weather which had started out decent, had continued to deteriorate and our views diminished to the point where we could barely see Calliope to our south. We chatted for a while and decided to keep going until it became too poor to see or climb.
We began the final ridge section by first climbing up a series of gullies and ramps. The route is pretty straight forward but you are forced to hunt around a bit to find the easiest path. At times large rock walls blocked our progress and we were forced to traverse left and right in search of an easier passage. ( Read more... )
This summer we opted to explore the peaks that lie on the tract of land between Eagle River and Peter's Creek. Most of these are after work and day hikes for Eagle River residents; however since we live in Anchorage I rarely make it out to Eagle River thus I had yet to make it up any of these peaks.
The big plus with these peaks is they are all dog friendly summits; even old dog friendly which is what Pharaoh has become. So over the course of 2 weekends we went out with various friends and climbed Baldy, Blacktail Rocks, Significant and Roundtop.
Significant we climbed from the trailhead for Ram Valley. We hiked up the south face and then ambled along the broad south ridge to the summit. Baldy, Blacktail Rocks, and Roundtop we climbed in an afternoon from the trailhead just above downtown Eagle River. We went up Baldy, then traversed the craggy Blacktail Rocks over the Roundtop. It was a fun rainy day and we had 4 people and 3 dogs cavorting in all directions! ( Read more... )
On March 27th Yvonne and I climbed the E. face / East couloir of Indianhouse Peak. The route was very straightforward and fun. It began with a nice hike that was free of snow up through the brush on faint game trails until we reached a bump on the south ridge at around 3000'. We then traversed the entire East face until we reached the prominent couloir you can see from the highway.
Traversing the snow slopes was slow going due to deep rotten snow. We had hoped to be across them before it was too hot but the rotten snow slowed our progress and we ended up traversing them at 11am - which is about the worst time to be on an east facing slope in March.
After we reached the couloir, the snow was much more compact and we made quick progress upwards. About 100' from the top of the couloir, the couloir splits. We took the right branch and followed steep (up to 45 degrees) snow up to the summit ridge. After that it was a simple walk (in deep snow) to the summit.
To descend we opted to take the couloir all the way to the base. It is key to aim for the large spruce left of the couloir as you near the base. We ended up going too far down the couloir and ran into open water. We had to backtrack through deep snow and alders to reach the spruce. From there it was a simple walk down through the woods until we reached an old road which dumped us out right next to Indian Valley meats.
The route took us just under 10 hours to complete. It was an excellent route and made for a fun spring climb! ( Read more... )
On March 4th, 2006 I climbed the northeast ridge of King Mountain with Thai and Jody. King Mountain sits on the south side of the Matanuska River just south of Chickaloon and features an impressively steep and accessible north face that is a great late winter climb. The summit of King is 5809' and you begin at 800' and pretty much gain 5000' in 1.5 miles. It's one of those great climbs where when you sit down you can see your car in-between your crampon points! ( Read more... )
Saturday, October 17th, 2005 was our first time out on skis since the previous April. There is powder north of Anchorage - but instead we opted for a traverse since we still have a little bit of light. So on Sunday we rounded up a group of friends and drove south to Girdwood where we hiked up the Crow Pass trail and dropped over onto the Milk Glacier via the pass between Barnes Mountain and Jewel Mountain. We then skied up the Milk Glacier and down the Raven Glacier - finally reaching the trail just as it got dark.
On Saturday July 7th Yvonne, Steve Gruhn and I hiked in to try Mt. Rumble in Chugach State Park. We knew it could potentially be a very very long day so we hauled bivy sacks and some extra clothes. We were at the trailhead at 7:30 and started hiking. 3 hours, 2500' and 5 miles later we reached the top of Bombardment Pass. We then had to descend 2500' and after 4 hours reached a beautiful tarn (small alpine lake) where we cached our bivy sacks, some extra food, dry socks and extra layers. From the tarn we could see the south face of Mt. Rumble (7,530') - our objective.
After leaving the tarn we continued down, traversing a slope via a well used sheep trail. At the head of the valley loomed the Raisin Glacier with Transcendence Peak (the bump in the middle) looking down on us. ( Read more... )
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. ( Read more... )