Temptation Peak (Southwest Ridge)

In case you don’t remember, we had a pretty awful summer this year: 30 days straight of rain and gloomy weather. Climbing plans were pretty much shelved in exchange for boating, fishing and a short quick jaunt up Flattop in-between and during showers.

So when the forecast called for somewhat reasonably clear and sunny skies we opted to hike in and try Temptation Peak. Temptation is one of the 12 5000′ peaks in the Chugach Front Range and was the last 5000′ Front Range peak left on Yvonne’s list (I still have 2 to go).

We packed a water bottle, bear spray, a couple bars and rain jackets and then began the slog up Snow Hawk Valley trail. The Snow Hawk trail has seen better days. At one time it was well cleared and easy walking. It’s now the standard Chugach trail – meaning it’s all of a foot wide with devil’s club and cow parsnip towering over your head. And to add to the excitement every 50 feet you come across a pile of steaming bear dung.

The over-grown brush meant we were soaked and covered in scratches within 15 minutes – and the bear dung meant our hike was spent screaming “Hey Bear” for the entire duration we were below treeline.

After about 3 hours we reached the Snow Hawk cabin where we paused for lunch. I read through the old log book where I discovered an entry I had written in July 2000:

6/25 – 2pm Stopped by enroute to Temptation Peak. Pharaoh (my mutt) tangled with a ground squirrel near here and as a result has a bleeding nasty cut on his mouth. Beware the evil critters!!

I remembered it fondly – a beautiful summer day & I jogged up to the cabin with my old dog. Pharaoh stuck his head under the cabin to pester the squirrels and pulled it out with a gash on his nose and blood spurting out. I had to apply pressure on his nose – much to his disdain – for about 30 minutes until the bleeding stopped. It didn’t seem to stop him from chasing critters. For the rest of his life he still took to sticking his nose into holes and pulling it out with a nasty bleeding cut!

Yvonne and I continued up and after another hour we were on top of the peak with high clouds all around us. We savored the views of Williwaw, Triangle, Flute and the central portion of Chugach State Park. After a while dug through the summit register and found my entry from 2000. During my 2000 climb I had a very memorable encounter with a dall sheep that I vividly remember:

We were near the summit when a young dall sheep ram scrambled over to us and blocked the final 100 foot passage to the summit. The ram snorted and pawed the ground – and then proceeded to prance back and forth brandishing his horns. A few times he would rear back on his back legs and snort as if challenging me to a duel. The funny thing is this guy was young – maybe 2 years old and I (perhaps naively) felt like I could have knocked him out with my ice axe if he did actually charge. So Pharaoh and I watched him curiously as he snorted and pranced and danced back and forth above us. This continued for about 15 minutes until he finally decided we weren’t worth the effort and turned aside to let us pass. The ram walked down the ridge a ways and then stood on an outcropping and kept and eye on us as we walked to the summit. We savored the view and then descended with his watchful eyes on us the entire time!

Yvonne and I had a much less exciting summit. We topped out and descended the SE ridge back to the valley floor and back out the overgrown trail to the car.

The excitement of the day was the discovery of and old can that was still sealed with something solid in it. I took it home and opened it up where I discovered a biscuit that looked like Logan bread. It smelled fine so I gave a piece to Koven. After he ingested a couple pieces without falling over dead, I tried it. It tasted pretty much like fresh Logan bread: i.e. – stale cardboard.

I sent out an email to the local Chugach experts and finally figured out that I had found a MRE Fruit Cake – circa 1950-60. It’s amazing that these things still appear fresh after 50 years!

Route Information

Temptation Peak (5,350′) – SW Ridge, Class 2

There’s really nothing to say about the route itself, just go up any ridge and you’ll get there. Getting to the peak you have 2 options: the Snow Hawk Valley trail or the Stuckagain / Dome / Kanchee trail. The Snow Hawk trail is pretty straight forward – you just wade up it though the muck, brush and bear poop. The Dome / Kanchee trail involves a little bit of brushy travel as you traverse from the Dome to the Snow Hawk Valley. Both are the same distance and take about the same amount of time – but I would say the Dome trail is more enjoyable due to better trail conditions and more time spent above treeline. One note to consider is that the Army asks you to get a permit before accessing their lands. If you don’t want to deal with permits then you can go in via Stuckagain with slim chance of being confronted by army police looking to catch Al-Qaeda packrafters trying to poach Ship Creek or whatever. If you go up Snow Hawk there’s a high likelihood that you’ll be ticketed if you don’t have a permit. That said – getting the permit is fast and easy and you get to experience the defense department bureaucratic process, which is an insight into why we’ve been floundering in the middle east for decades.