Boisterous Peak (Northeast Ridge)

Boisterous Peak (6,865’) sits on the ridge between Bold and Bashful and is often-overlooked due to its proximity to those peaks. However the peak is an exciting scramble and the various routes to the summit are such that one can find a route that is in shape for much of the year. Likewise the Northeast Ridge has become the standard route and it tends to be in shape in mid to late summer when access to many of the other Chugach peaks in this region is limited due to poor snow conditions, complex glacier travel and / or lack of snow.

The peak wasn’t climbed until September 1991 when Willy Hersman, Jim Sayler, Dolly Lefever, Kneely Taylor, and Greg Dubois made the first ascent. On the first ascent Willy Hersman opted to ascend the Northeast Glacier solo while the rest of the party ascended the Northeast Ridge.

There are four known routes on the peak: The Northeast Glacier, Northeast Ridge, West Ridge and Southwest Face.

The Northeast Glacier (steep snow/ice) is probably the most aesthetic: it’s a beautiful sweeping glacier that rises from the basin at the base of the North Face and connects all the way to the summit. This route would be in shape (avalanche dependent) from April through June. Access this route via the basin at the base of the face. Not much to be said other than ascend the route, taking care to avoid crevasses, rockfall and avalanches. This route would be an amazing ski ascent / descent if one could time conditions perfectly. (Edit April 2019: Since I posted this the Northeast Glacier was skied by Mike Records, Dave Bass, Alyse Loranon and Tony DeMarco on March 30 2019.  The following weekend 2 other people followed their tracks to the summit.  That makes 7 known ascents of this route – which makes it almost as popular as the Northeast Ridge.)

The Northeast Ridge (Class 3+/4) has become the standard route and tends to be in shape later in the year (August / September) as earlier in the year the route is shaded and tends to hold snow. Parties who have ascended the route earlier have found snow and ice at the crux whereas later in the year the crux melts out and the rock / scree make for easier travel.

The West Ridge (Class 4) is the long complicated ridge that connects to Bold. This was climbed by Sam “Solo Sam” Griffiths in 1999. Of all the routes on this peak this is by far the most complicated and difficult and most parties would want a rope and gear (and belayer) for this route.

The Southwest Face (Class 3) ascends a gully that one accesses from the valley north of Bashful. This route has been climbed by 2 parties: Wendy Sanem and Bethan Gilmartin (August 1999) and Richard Baranow and Joe Grither (September 2000). With snow in the gully this would be a quick and straightforward route, without snow it would be a loose and potentially dangerous grovel.

As stated, the Northeast Ridge has become the standard route, probably due to it being a route that can be climbed in late summer. To get to the base of the route you have to hike up Bold Ridge Trail and over Hunter Pass, (the col that south of Peak 5281 and north of Bold / 10 miles one way from the Eklutna trailhead), and then drop down into the valley between Bold Valley and the West Fork of Hunter Creek and hike to the head of the valley (another 3 miles). Total distance / elevation gain to the base is 13 miles / 5000’.

Eric above treeline on the Bold Ridge trail. Eklutna lake in the background.

North Face of Bold Peak.

Dropping down into the valley from Hunter Pass.

There is a wonderful camp on a bench at the base of the moraine just below the route (around 3200’). Be aware that this valley sees a lot of bear traffic and a few parties heading back there have had close encounters with brown bears. Because of this I would suggest camping as high as possible to avoid sleeping in the brush and surprising a passing bear.

Our camp on the bench below the North face of Boisterous.

Eric on the approach.

The route is relatively straight forward: First gain the ridge at 5000’ by either hiking up the grassy slopes northeast of the bench (longer but easier) or by the moraine southeast of the bench (shorter by harder). Once on the ridge stay on the wide ridge crest and ascend about 500’ until you reach the Northeast Ridge proper. From 5500-6500’ the ridge is narrow with lots of exposed Class 3 and a few sections of Class 4. The rock is especially rotten which makes the exposed climbing feel harder than it is.

About 1/3 of the way up the ridge.

About 1/2 up the ridge. Lots of short rock steps followed by scree benches.

Looking down at the W Fork of Hunter Creek.

The crux is about 2/3 of the way up the route and features a rock step where you must choose between directly ascending about 30’ of Class 4 rotten rock, or traversing a loose dirt ramp above a cliff band on the climbers left hand side of the ridge. On the way up I opted for the dirt traverse while Eric took the rock step. On the descent we both downclimbed the rock step. The rock step is easier but more intimidating. It should be noted that the traverse often has snow and ice in it which would make it difficult.

The crux: dirt traverse option.

The crux: exposed rock step option.

Above the crux there is a several hundred feet of exposed Class 3 until the angle finally lets off. A false summit and a short drop to a flat spot where the glacier route joins the ridge and a final scramble puts you on the summit.

Lots of exposed Class 3+ on the upper ridge.

Reverse the route to descend. The crux downclimb is imposing but is easier than it looks. There is a rap anchor somewhere in the vicinity of this pitch if you look around for it.

Eric Parsons and I climbed the route on September 15, 2018 on a beautiful Indian summer weekend. It took us 5 hours to reach the bench at the base of the route and we set up camp in the afternoon sun and took a nap in the tundra.

Eric on the summit with Bashful just behind him.

Troublesome Peak at the head of the Hunter Glacier.

North face of Baleful. Willy Hersman called the ice hose seen at the cleft the ‘perhaps the biggest unclimbed challenge in the Western Chugach’.

From the bench where Eric and I camped it took 3 hours to reach the summit; total round trip from camp to camp took us 6 hours. From camp back to the trailhead took another 5 hours which makes for a very reasonable overnight trip. A few people have climbed the peak in a day – but that makes for a 29 mile / 10,000’ day with 1500’ of technical scrambling. Likewise the valley is in a far corner of Chugach State Park and it is nice to spend time exploring these seldom visited spots.

Descending the route – around 6700′

Descending the route – around 6500′.

Descending the route – around 6000′.

All in all this is a fun scramble in a hidden corner of the park. I would suggest you save the peak for a late summer day and then take a weekend and enjoy the camping in valley. If you’re looking for a greater challenge consider camping at the bench, climbing Boisterous and then climbing Bold via the basin directly west of the bench. This basin ascends a scree slope which dumps you at the top of Stivers Gully. From there it’s 2000’ to the summit of Bold and then a 6000’ descent down Stivers Gully to the East Fork of the Eklutna.

East Face of Bold. Ascend the basin with the tarn and then scramble up the scree slopes to reach Stivers to traverse Bold.

Rock glacier at base of Bold.