Rumble (South Face)

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.

The sheep trail dropped us down into the valley where we had to cross Peter’s Creek. Luckily the water wasn’t too high and the crossing ended up being easy.

At this point we had dropped back down to 2500′ and had to climb up to 7500′ – 5000′ more feet to go! We began working our way up the south face — hopping up little boulder piles and long scree gullies. The views were amazing with the big Chugach State Park 7000′ footers in the distance. The big mountain below from left to right are: Mt Beelzebub, Devils Mistress, Icicle, Old Soggy and The Raisin. Beelzebub and Devils Mistress are rumored to be two of the hardest peaks in the park. At one point an electrical storm rolled in and we spent an hour crotched under a boulder waiting for the skies to clear. After they cleared we continued up.

After 4000′ of scree we reached the crux: an exposed crawl over loose gravel to the upper slopes. We took one wrong turn and ended up cliffed out above a waterfall – but after backtracking and a little route-finding we reached the upper snow slopes which we quickly ascended.

Yvonne and I were well ahead of Steve when we reached the summit ridge. We were hiking briskly when we suddenly heard the roll of thunder. Seeing the summit a mere 200′ above us we dropped our packs and axes and ran to the top. At the top I scribbled our names in the registrar and then turned and ran back down. Steve met us as Yvonne and I were descending and he too dropped his pack and ran to the top. The clouds were getting pretty close so he had an overly exciting run into the clouds!

Yvonne and I dropped down to a cave just below the summit ridge. We cached our axes and packs and pulled out an insulated pad to sit on. Steve joined us shortly and we then spent the next 1 1/2 hours holed up in a cave while lightening danced all around us.

After it passed we grabbed our packs and headed down – dropping down the upper snow slopes and traversing the crux safely. Unfortunately during the ascent a rock had fallen on Steve’s leg and when we twisted to escape he had jarred his knee somehow. Sitting in the cave caused his knee to lock up and our progress started to slow.

We then quickly dropped down to the valley floor and started back up the sheep trail. On the way up the storm clouds cleared, alpenglow set in and we were treated to an awesome view of Bellicose Peak and “The Shroud” – a steep beautiful glacier that clings to the north face. (One day!)

We headed up the sheep trail – reaching our bivy sacks at 11 pm and reaching the pass at midnight. At this point we had hiked 15 miles and climbed almost 11,000′. and were all starting to feel a little zoned out!

Steve’s leg was also beginning to really hurt him so we began talking about biving at the first flat spot. Having never experienced a forced bivy, Yvonne wasn’t to psyched about it but we had no choice as Steve’s leg was getting worse. So – at 1am we reached a flat spot and curled up for the night. We put on all our extra clothes, stuck the feet inside the backpack to stay warm, pulled the bivy sack over the head (to keep out the mosquitoes) and promptly passed out.

We managed to get about 3 hours of sleep before we woke up at 4 am shivering. It was fully light out and there was no chance of sleeping as we were freezing so we opted to continue down. Hiking out in the early morning light was a treat – except for the swarms of bugs that devoured us every step of the way.

2 hours later we were finally back at the trailhead!