On March 27th Yvonne and I climbed the E. face / East couloir of Indianhouse Mountain. 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!
Indianhouse Mountain (4435′) – East Face – Class 3
The East Face route traverses the entire East face until you reach the East couloir. You then ascend the East couloir until it splits. Take the right fork of the couloir to the summit. This route has been skied a few times, however the East face tends to be wind hammered and unlike the couloirs on the North and West side of the peak, the route is rarely in shape for skiing.
Approach: Park at the unmarked pull-out on the north side of the road at mile 104 of the Seward Highway. Heading South from Anchorage this turnout is just past the small pullout with the waterfall and about 1/4 mile before you reach Indian Valley Mine. From the pull out take the trail that leads into the woods and hunt around until you find the faint hikers trail that leads uphill. Perhaps the hardest part of the this route is getting above treeline. However the route sees a fair amount of traffic so if you take your time you’ll find a decent trail.
Route: Follow the faint trail up and north until you reach treeline. At treeline continue climbing until you finally reach the the East ridge that drops from the col between Falls Peak and Indianhouse. Once on the ridge walk up the ridge until you can finally begin traversing across the entire face without too much elevation gain / loss. In general you’ll want to stay just below the rock bands and above the grassy meadows. (Don’t be tempted to gain the South Ridge proper since this route requires a rope for the descending / ascending the notch just below the summit.) The traverse is a full 1/2 mile and you’ll eventually be deposited at the base of the massive East Couloir that splits the entire mountain. Once at the couloir climb up 1000′ until you reach a fork. Take the (climbers) right trending couloir and continue climbing to the summit.
Descent: Descend the route.