Edit August 2020: For the second time in the past 3 years Bashful Peak now has a fixed rope. For some reason Chugach climbers have decided that Chikenshit Gully is too dangerous and that subsequent climbers need a fixed line to safely ascend this gully. The first rope was placed in August 2017 and was removed in the August 2019 by Gerrit Verbeek. The second one was placed in August 2020.
Bashful has seen almost yearly ascents since the 60s – and no one felt inclined to leave a rope for over 50 years. Why the sudden change in ethics? To quote Dave’s editorial, “A fixed line for future users has no place in our sport. It is unsightly and demonstrates laziness, or at the minimum a complete misunderstanding of and disregard of our sport.”
If you need a rope for safety then by all means carry one… but please take it home with you when you’re done.
Bashful Peak is the tallest peak in Chugach State Park. At 8,005′ it towers well above everything around it and provides a pretty awesome view if you’re lucky enough to climb it on a good day. It’s also a day climb – which means you can put in a good 7000′ of elevation gain (plus 22 miles by bike and 10 by foot) and still be back in bed hopefully before your 24 hour time allotment is up.
To get there – bike 11 miles out the Eklutna Lake trail, ditch your bike in the woods and hike 2 miles down the East Fork trail until you reach Stivers’ Gully. Stivers’ is easily recognized by the multiple cairns that line the trail as you pass through the creek bed. Hang a left at Stivers’ and follow a decent trail climbers left of the creek. Follow this uphill for about 1/4 mile until you reach the actual start of Stivers’ Gully (where the rock walls dramatically rise on either side). Just before the walls look on the right side of the gully and you’ll see a cairn and trail heading up and right. Take this trail.
The Bashful trail begins with about 500′ of steep grass that meanders slightly up and right. The travel is pretty easy so staying on trail isn’t that important – but you’ll want to be more or less close to the trail because around 2000′ progress is blocked by a rock band. As you approach the rock band, traverse right until you find an alder tunnel that snakes up next to the rock buttress. At the top of the rock/alder trail traverse up and right again and you will find another alder tunnel that will take you to treeline.
Miss this trail and you’ll endure an hour of thrashing whereas the trail gets you through the thick of it in 20 minutes – so take the time to properly identify it.
Once you’re through the alder tunnel you’ll find yourself on a perch overlooking the route you just took up. Memorize this spot because there is a good chance you could be coming down late in the day.
Head up and right once again. You’ll connect a couple meadows (passing an occasional cairn and flagging) and eventually (around 3000′) you’ll find yourself parallel to the moraine. Pop through the trees and scramble up on the moraine and you’ll be on a bench overlooking the rock glacier that is at the base of the NW face of Bashful. Head directly south across the moraine aiming for the 3000′ mark on the West Ridge of Bashful. You’ll drop a bit before having to traverse the moraine and eventually you’ll work your way up to a bench on the far south side of the rock glacier.
Once you’re on the southern side you’ll get a good look at the access ramp: On the far side of the West Ridge there is a grass ramp that sits at 3000′ just climber’s right off the prominent scree gully. Get to the grass ramp by an upward traverse of the scree gully and eventually you’ll reach the ramp which has a faint trail to the ridge.
Once you’re on the West Ridge hang a left and go up. From 3000′ to 5000′ the travel is on mellow grass ramps and rock ledges. Once you reach 5000′ the grass turns to scree and the ascent will slow a bit. Travel is easy with minimal route finding.
Around 7000′ the nature of the route changes from 3rd to exposed 4th class. You’ll find yourself piecing together short rock steps until you’re finally forced off the ridge and onto a series of steep scree sidewalks that meander to the right.
Above these sidewalks you’ll see a headwall and the intimidating gully that Chugach climbers have lovingly named Chickenshit Gully.
Chickenshit Gully is classic Chugach choss. Everything is loose and covered in dirt and gravel and there is no way around it.
There appears to be some confusion as to which chossy gully is actually Chickenshit. Some people climb the narrow body width gully which is closer to ridge crest, some people choose the wider snowy gully that is further climbers right. Some people actually climb the ridge itself. Both gullies have rap anchors (the ridge does not) and the wide gully appears to be lower angle – but it is often icy.
The narrow gully is body width and pretty much exactly 200′ to the mound of loose rock wrapped with cord that serves as a rap anchor. There is a piton on climbers right about 50′ up, and about 40′ above the piton there is a nice crack that would take a small to medium cam if you’re inclined to carry gear – but for the most part a rope won’t do anything for the leader – so don’t fall.
Once above the gully you can cache your rope and all your climbing gear and start hiking back towards the ridge crest. Back on the crest the angle eases off to 3rd class again and with a clear view of the summit route finding is a nonissue – Just work your way up the ridge towards the broad scree slope that is just below the summit.
And that’s it. You’re on the top of Bashful. Enjoy the view.
To descend reverse the route. Try and get below treeline before it gets dark. Hiking down the alder tunnel after dark is not fun.
You don’t need a GPX track for Bashful. It is a ridge and the approach well traveled.
Times vary for this route. The hard core mountain runners can knock it out in 12ish hours and faster, but I also know solid Chugach climbers who have had to bivouac on route. You can get to 3000′ in roughly 3 hours from the parking lot (and get back down in 2 hours), but times for the route from 3000′-8000′ will vary depending on your familiarity with Chugach route-finding and steep Chugach crud. Thus for the West Ridge itself (not including approach) I’d give a range of 5-8 hours for the up and 4-6 for the down. If you have good weather and you nail the Chickenshit approach on the first go then your overall time will be closer to the 12-14 hour mark.
The West Ridge of Bashful is generally climbed in late summer with sneakers / light hikers – thus no real gear is required other than food, water (no water until the final summit snowfields), trekking poles (unless you have knees of steel) and helmet. Lots of people forgo the helmet but given that a head-sized rock bounced right in front of my eyes on an attempt I say it’s mandatory.
As for Chickenshit Gully. Going up this gully is pretty easy – coming down without a rope would suck. That said – 1 rope doubled for a rap will only get you half way down the gully and you’ll be forced to downclimb the steepest portion of the gully. Thus if you’re not into downclimbing steep chossy rock I would suggest two 60m ropes. If that sounds way too heavy consider hauling 60m of 8mm for a rap line and 60m of 6mm as pull cord. This will get you all the way down the gully and you will be able to pull the rope from a safe zone (which is nice considering pulling the rope displaces mounds of rock).
Likewise carry a headlamp. This route is commonly done late summer – and summer headlamp rules don’t count when you try to do 8000′ peaks in a day!