3 Traverses in Chugach State Park

Throughout Chugach State Park there are a number of ridges that can be linked up to make for long day or overnight tours and where most of the travel is above treeline. Of course sometimes half the adventure is getting to that ridge (or getting back to the trailhead after completing said ridge) at which point you’ll be thrust back into bushwhack hell – but the ridge climbing itself is rather enjoyable.  The routes discussed below are three summer routes that range from mellow to exciting and offer a bit of something for everyone.All these trips start and end at well-developed trail heads – so there are zero access issues.  As for trails – Eklutna to Pioneer begin and end on well-traveled and well-marked trail – and once up high route is well defined and easy to follow, the Kinglet’s Traverse is on a well-traveled trail for about a third of the route whereas another third is on a steep ridgeline and the final third is on an overgrown trail. The Pellet to Kelly Peak Traverse on the other hand has everything from a bike ride to glacier travel, 4th class scrambling and bushwhacking.

These trips also run the gamut in terms of gear. Eklunta to Pioneer requires nothing more than a running vest, tennis shoes and ample food/water. The Kinglet’s Traverse has a bit of scrambling on loose rock and is usually done as an overnighter, so you’ll need shoes sturdy enough for loose Class 3 rock while carrying a an overnight pack. The Kelley Peak Traverse is true mountaineering endeavor that requires crampons (and crampon compatible boots), ice axe and glacier kit as plus overnight gear.

The beautiful hiking on the Eklutna to Pioneer ridge.

Kinglet Ridge. Class 3 and a bit of exposure (not so bad when not covered in snow).

Pellet to Kelly Peak Traverse. Glaciers, choss, Class 4 climbing and brush! Oh my!

Gear Notes


As a general rule of thumb you can get away with two pairs of shoes for summer travel in the Chugach: a nice sturdy pair of running shoes and a pair of 3-season mountaineering boots. Note that occasionally you’ll want a pair of heavy mountaineering boots (like the La Sportiva Nepal) where you’ll be tromping around on a glacier for hours or in steep snow. Those routes would be considered more of a true mountaineering outing (i.e. Bellicose, Polar Bear or spring ascents of peaks like Eagle or West Kiliak), whereas the routes discussed on this page are mostly hikes (with a little scrambling).

When choosing running shoes the primary focus should be fit and the secondary focus being a sticky sole for scrambling. In the past I burned through multiple pairs of La Sportiva Ultra-Raptors and La Sportiva Akyras – both of which fit me well and had a sticky Vibram sole – however as is often the case, these models were discontinued and newer models don’t fit as well. I’ve tried ultra-wide shoes like Altras and Hokas and while they are comfortable for extended distances, they suck on anything that requires edging, so I can’t recommend them.  Be aware that you’ll probably destroy your running shoes after a couple Chugach peaks, but so be it.

When choosing boots again the primary focus should be fit and sticky sole – however the other thing you’ll want to consider is crampon compatibility. While a lightweight boot like the La Sportiva Ultra-Raptor boot is incredibly comfortable for hiking and scrambling – it lacks a heel welt so you’ll be forced to use unwieldy strap-on crampons.  (Side-note: if you don’t need crampons this a great boot. La Sportiva basically took their popular running shoe and added lightweight ankle support. I wore these boots out of the box for a 9 day backpacking trip once and loved them every minute.)  If you do need crampons you can get away without a toe bail but semi-automatic crampon compatibility is nice in that it allows for a stiffer crampon (and/or usage of a super light model like the Petzl Irvis Hybrid). In the past I’ve burned through several pairs of La Sportiva Trango Cube boots (discontinued) and lately have been using the La Sportiva Trango Tech GTX.  All of the La Sportiva boots preform more or less the same: they climb well, keep your feet mostly dry in snow and hold crampons well – however they also fall apart quickly when you’re climbing loose sharp rock.

La Sportiva Ultra-Raptors. These were great shoes. They didn’t last very long – but were super comfy and super sticky. Sadly this model was discontinued.

La Sportiva Ultra-Raptor Gortex. A little more durable than the other version – but also didn’t dry out as well. You can still find these (although they’re no longer in production).

La Sportiva Trango Cube. These were good boots; comfy enough for long distance hiking, stiff enough for rock and steep snow and relatively durable. Sadly this model was discontinued.

La Sportiva Trango Tech GTX. These are currently in production. They are light and comfy for hiking and climbing and  climb rock and snow equally well, but have limited durability.

6000 words about mountaineering shoes?  Kyle McCrohan’s “Footware in the Cascades” is a long post where he describes multiple types of footwear. This is a great read – but one thing to keep in mind is that in the Cascades there are actual trails and you can often get away with lighter gear.


Of the three routes profiled below I hauled 2 different packs: a ~20L running pack/vest for Eklutna to Pioneer and a ~35L mountaineering pack for the other trips. When doing Eklutna to Pioneer I bought a Gregory Nano 22 the night before at REI. It worked, but it’s a clunky pack that carries poorly and is uncomfortable when loaded.  I’ve since switched to a Black Diamond Cirque 22 for similar trips. This pack is a running vest model that fits snug and carries a fair amount of gear. While it is technically a ski pack, and has a lot of features that aren’t useful in the summer (like an ave pocket), I don’t see any need to buy a summer-specific version since I use it for skiing throughout the winter.  If you’re doing routes like Eklutna to Pioneer or the Penguin Traverse this type of pack is ideal.  There are multiple versions on the market – my only suggestion is to lean towards a ~20L model so you can use the same pack throughout the year and thus have ample room when stuffing in extra layers (plus shovel/probe when in avalanche terrain).

For the Kinglet’s Traverse I carried my old Black Diamond Speed 40. I bought this on sale at a shop in Chamonix in the summer of 2012. The next day I hauled it up a rock pitch that I didn’t want to lead with a pack and promptly ripped a large hole in it. That pretty much set the stage for the rest of the pack’s life. It worked but it by the time I threw it in the trash 10 years later it was more fabric-tape than fabric. Lately I’ve been using an Osprey Mutant 38 which is an exceptional pack. I’ve used it for everything from long traverses like the Pellet to Kelly Peak Traverse  to mountain climbs like Bellicose and White Lice. It carries heavy loads and can be stripped down for a minimal day pack equally well. It’s also significantly cheaper than the Hyperlite packs that are so popular.

BD Cirque 22. Equally good for skiing as well as hiking. O’Malley Peak. May 2022.

My old BD Speed. If you look close you can see the first of many of pieces fabric tape. Chapelle de la Glière, Chamonix FR. July 2012.

My Osprey Mutant 38 stripped down for a long day on Mt. Stuart, Cascades, WA. July 2021.


The only other note I’ll add for gear is a snippet on trekking poles. In the past I’ve used the lightweight Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z-Trekking poles, but they break easily, My wife recently discovered this for herself after punching through a moat on the Eagle Glacier and breaking one. This made for a difficult descent of Goat Ridge with an overnight pack and single pole. Lately I’ve been using Black Diamond Trail poles which are slightly heavier but can withstand a lot more abuse than the carbon poles. A bonus for this model is that BD sells the mid and lower sections separately (for $10) so when you break or bend them you can replace the sections as opposed to having to buy a new set.

Eric Parsons takes a break near the summit of Yudikench. In the distance is Knik Glacier. July 2019.

Eklutna to Pioneer

This route that starts at Eklunta Lake and traverses 4 peaks (Pepper, Salt, 5285 and Yudikench) and then heads down the Pioneer trail before you start the ascent towards the South Peak of Pioneer. The route can be done in either direction, but if you start at Eklunta the route has slightly less vertical gain overall plus you get most of the elevation gain finished with early so you can cruise the second half.  Ideally one would convince some (stronger or unknowing) friends to do it in an opposite direction so you could do a key swap and avoid driving two cars!

On the upper ridge and looking down at Eklunta lake.

Looking across the valley towards the ridge near the Pioneer trail.

Somewhere near Peak 5285.

I have no idea who did this route first – but the ridgeline is well defined and both the Twin Lakes and Pioneer Peak trail have been in place for decades.  Likewise these ridge-lines have seen hunters for hundreds of years so I imagine the first traverse was made by Dena’ina hunters traversing to and from Eklutna lake many years ago. As for recreationalists, Tim Kelley has a write up in a 1991 Scree of a variation of this traverse where he traversed from Pepper to Yudikench and then continued east over Bleak and Bright and looped back to the trailhead via the Eklunta road. This variation is nice in that you don’t have to shuttle a car – but you do end up hiking 5 miles along Eklutna lake which can be frustrating if you’re there on a day it’s open to ORVs.  If you are interested in this variation, Trond Jensen has a writeup here.

Somewhere near Peak 5400.

Heading towards Yudikench.

Halfway across the ridge.

In regards to notes about the route – there’s not much to be said.  This is a simple point to point route where the only things you have to worry about are  whether your legs can handle it and if you brought enough water. My only suggestions is to wait until the snow has melted off the ridge (usually late June) otherwise you’ll have long periods of post-holing.

The latter portion of the ridge and dropping towards the Pioneer trail.

Friendly locals whom I was glad not to meet.

Friendly locals whom I was glad to meet.

Eric Parsons and I hiked this route on a beautiful day in July 2019. Our pace was leisurely and it took us just under 9.5 hours. We saw Dall sheep and came upon fresh brown bear tracks in the snow next to a small melt pool just off the ridge. We had perfect weather except for an exciting thunderstorm that rolled onto the Pioneer Ridge just as we reached the trail (which made us regret our leisurely pace).

All that said – this is a great introduction to Chugach ridge hiking and is a great way to see if your body is up for bigger similar trips (like Penguin Ridge or the Kinglet’s Traverse).

Eklutna to Pioneer

This is an excellent ridge walk with great views of the Eklutna area peaks and Knik River that traverses 4 peaks with no difficulties other than distance and elevation gain.  There are well established trails on both ends of the traverse and the ridge hiking has well defined sheep/human trails. It’s a great way to spend a long day hiking without worries about route finding or brush.

Approach: Park one car at Eklutna Lake and another at the Pioneer Peak trail. The route starts right out of the parking lot and gains the ridge via the Twin Peaks trail.

Route:  Follow the Twin Peaks trail to the top of the Pepper Peak and then follow the ridge all the way around to the Pioneer Peak trail.

Gear: Running shoes and lots of food and water.

Distance/Time: 18.5 miles and 9,300’ elevation gain (note – total elevation loss when starting at Eklunta is 10,100’). Total time for us was 9.5 hours.

Season: Best done mid to late summer after all the snow has melted off the ridge.


Looking across the North Fork of Ship Creek at the Kinglet’s Traverse. September 2016.

Kinglet’s Traverse

Starting from Archangel Lakes this route traverses 3 peaks (East Kinglet, West Kinglet and 4515) in 7 miles with an elevation gain of around 4000′. That said – you need to hike 8 miles (and gain 4000′) to reach the base of the route – and after completing it you need to get back to the trailhead somehow which involves either a 10 miles brushy/beary hike out Bird Creek or a 15 mile/4000′ hike/climb out via Bird Ridge or Indian. Add in some exposed Class 3 rock that you need traverse with a pack and the route becomes an exciting objective!

All three of these peaks were first climbed by Jim Sayler on solo trips (4515 in June 1991 and East Kinglet in 1979). I don’t know who first linked the peaks for the first true Kinglet Traverse – but it’s been a well known and traveled route for years.

As a caveat – technically I haven’t done this entire route.  I climbed East Kinglet in 2007 as part of a family wedding backpacking trip near Grizzly Bear Lake.  While going up and over Archangel Pass, Scott Hauser and I dropped our packs and hiked to the top of East Kinglet. When I did the traverse in September 2017, I bypassed East Kinglet by side-hilling across directly to West Kinglet (thus saving a few hundred feet).  I also wasn’t able to link up the very bottom of the route because I summited 4515 at 9pm and it got dark as I was descending the final section.  The final down-climb was more exposed than I wanted to do in the dark so I backtracked and down-climbed a tundra ramp to camp at a tarn just northeast of 4515. That said – the East Kinglet bypass doesn’t save you that much time – and the final ridge descent, while elegant, is often bypassed by climbers who drop off to either the north or south to speed up their descent.

Looking down Steamroller Pass. The Kinglet traverse is the ridge on the upper right. September 2017.

Looking up at Steamroller Pass from the Archangel Lakes side. Take the scree that is lookers left of the snow. July 2016.

Looking up at the Kinglets from Archangel lake. July 2016.

The route begins at the Crow Pass parking lot; ascend Crow Pass and a little ways past Raven Glacier (just as you begin to descend down to Eagle River) take the first major drainage to the west. Hike this to the col (Steamroller Pass) and then descend to Archangel Lakes.  Steamroller Pass is best descended via scree ledges on the (skiers) right side of the pass. There is a faint trail down the scree and then across a bench above the glacier tarns below. You can then easily work your way down to the lake.

Once at the lake ascend to Archangel Pass (just east of East Kinglet) and then gain the ridge and start hiking west. East Kinglet is easily climbed and the ridge from East to West is straight forward until you reach a short section of steep rock just before the summit of West.  Bypass the steep rock on the south side of the peak and backtrack to reach the summit.  From West Kinglet the ridge is more or less straight-forward all the way to 4515.  There are a couple sections of steep rock but you can easily bypass them on the south side of the peak. From the summit of 4515 you can either continue down the ridge all the way to Bird Pass, or drop off to either the north or south to quickly descend and get off the rocky ridge.

Hiking up the ridge to East Kinglet. July 2007. (Note that you do not need an ice axe for this route!)

Half way across Kinglet Traverse and looking east towards East Kinglet. September 2017.

Near the top of West Kinglet. September 2017.

Once off the ridge you need to get home. The fastest way is out via Bird Creek. There is a faint trail on the west side of the creek that descends to treeline and down into Bird Valley.  Follow the faint trail until you reach the crossing where there is a fixed rope. After the crossing the trail is well maintained and traveled. Note that Bird Creek has a healthy population of brown bears (I had a terrifying encounter with a brown bear sow/cub in this zone several years ago) – so carry bear spray and make a lot of noise once you’re below treeline.

Looking at the summit of 4515. You can either continue up and over or descend north or south to reach the valley.

Bird Creek Pass. September 2017.

The rope across Bird Creek. April 2019.

You can also opt to extend your trip by crossing over Bird Creek Pass and hiking up towards the peaks behind Bird Ridge.  When I traversed the ridge I camped at the base of 4515 and then hiked up the sub-ridge to the east of Birds Eye Peak. I detoured to the top of Birds Eye and then traversed over the Wing / Beak col and out to Indian via the Indian trail.  This added another 15 miles / 4000′. Alternatively you could hike out Bird Ridge or continue towards Ship Lake and out via Glen Alps.

Dall sheep above Bird Creek Pass.

Porcupine on the Indian trail.

Dall sheep on the West Ridge of the Wing.

As for tips…  this route can be done as a long day (25 miles / 8000′) if you opt to descend via Bird Creek (note that you’ll be hiking out Bird Creek very late when the bear are very active) – but doing it as an overnighter makes for pleasant days.  If you combine it with a traverse towards Indian Pass or Ship Pass you spend a lot of time in the high county with very little brush and good hiking.

Kinglet’s Traverse

The traverse follows a 7 mile ridgeline across 3 peaks. You traverse a high ridge above Bird Creek and Ship Creek with great views of the peaks at the head of Ship Creek.  It’s a great route for people who able to travel long distances and are comfortable on exposed Class 3 rock.

Approach: Starting at Crow Pass, hike up and over Crow Pass and then take the valley west to Steamroller Pass. Cross Steamroller Pass and descend to Archangel lakes where you will finally be at the base of the route.

Route:  Gain the ridge at Archangel Pass and then follow the ridgeline west up and over East Kinglet, West Kinglet and Peak 4515. The route is Class 3 with a few short exposed sections of harder rock.  The harder sections of rock can be bypassed on the south side of the ridge.  The two crux’s you will encounter are a short section just below the summit of West Kinglet. Bypass this by down-climbing to the south and then scrambling up steep loose rock on the south side to the summit.  From the summit of West there is a short steep exposed section that you must down-climb to reach easier rock below before continuing on easier ground towards 4515. Once on the summit of 4515 you can continue down the ridge towards Bird Creek Pass, or drop off the ridge at several points to the north or south to reach Bird or Ship creek.

Gear: Running shoes or lightweight boots depending on your comfort level.  If carrying an overnight pack boots will give you more stability in the loose rock.

Distance/Time: Crow Pass approach: 8 miles/4000′; Kinglet Traverse: 7 miles / 4000’;  out Bird Creek: 10 miles/500’; out Indian: ~15 miles/4000’; out Bird Ridge: ~12 miles/4000’. This is a trip that can be done as a very long day or as an overnight.  Expect the portion from Crow Pass to Archangel lake to take about 5 hours and the actual Kinglet Traverse about 5-7 hours.  Getting out can be difficult because you either have to descend the heavily vegetated Bird Creek Pass trail, or ascend several thousand feet to get out via Bird Ridge or Indian Creek.

Season: Best done mid to late summer after all the snow has melted off the ridge.

Eric nearing the summit of Kelly Peak. September 2020.

Pellet to Kelly Peak Traverse

First off a little backstory to this route: In the 1990s Steve Gruhn drafted a list for the Mountaineering Club that set an arbitrary prominence of 500′ to define a true peak in Chugach State Park. Based on Gruhn’s observations and research he determined that there are 120 “true” peaks in Chugach State Park. Since then there have been a steady number of people working to tick off this list.  I climbed my first true Chugach State Park peak in 1996 – and in August 2020 I climbed my 119th. My 119th peak was Bounty which is arguably one of the more beautiful peaks in the park.  (Nice enough to where I happily agreed to go back with Eric the following spring to climb the North Face for his 119th peak.)

While scrambling across the ridges and peaks to reach Bounty I spent a long time looking down at Kelly and trying to build excitement to return and finish off the 120.  Kelly is small (5010′) and unappealing – especially when looked at in relation to neighboring peaks like White Lice, Bounty and Bashful. On the day I was climbing Bounty I unexpectantly ran into Az Sellers and we climbed the route together.  While sitting on the summit looking around I mentioned that I was uninspired to hike up Kelly.  Az told me to not do the standard North Ridge – which is a long bushwhack followed by mellow hiking – and to instead traverse the entire ridge from Eklutna Glacier. As had done this route with Kathy Still (his mother) and Charlie Sink a couple years prior and he had high praise for the ridge. They had navigated the ridge in dense fog by GPS and then retraced their steps back to Pischler’s. I was sold – and with this idea in the works my enthusiasm returned and I easily convinced Eric Parsons to join me for the link up.

The route is long and complex:  51 miles and 8500′ roundtrip.  It involves a bike ride to the East Fork trail, a hike / glacier crossing to Pischler’s Perch, complex glacier travel to the Whiteout col followed by 6 miles of steep exposed ridge scrambling with short sections of Class 4 rock. Cap it off with a thick bushwhack back to the East Fork trail and a final bike ride back to the trailhead.

Eric heading into the valley below the Eklutna Glacier.

Eric approaching the glacier. You can see the ice in the top middle left. The first time I came down this glacier in 2002 the ice came down to where Eric is standing.

On the Eklutna Glacier.

Eric and I waited for a weather window and then set off on a sunny Friday afternoon in early September.  We biked the Eklutna trail, stashed our bikes and then slogged to the glacier. Once on the glacier we weaved over to the moraine and made good time to the hut (except for an extended detour when Eric dropped his pole in a crevasse and required a belay).

A good nights sleep and then up early and moving up glacier. Traveling up glacier in late summer is an eye-opener experience. In the winter the glacier is smooth and many skiers glide to Pischler’s sans rope – but in September the crevasses were plenty and wide open and we spent a long time end running one after another until finally reaching a zone where we could travel in a straight line. After a couple miles we reached the accumulation zone – which incidentally had fresh snow on it.  We roped up and booted up boot deep powder until finally gaining the ridge.

Pischler’s Perch. An amazing place to spent a night.

Big crevasses on the Eklutna in September. Peril in the background.

Lots of sidewalks to traverse.

Upon gaining the ridge we realized we had traveled too far south and had to backtrack for a mile until finally getting off the glacier and onto rock.  Then we climbed the South Ridge of Pellet Point – veering to the north across steep rotten scree ledge system to bypass the 5th class rotten rock and gain the mellow Northeast Ridge. We then dropped our packs and scrambled up the final few hundred feet to the summit of Pellet Peak (5665′).

Kicking steps up the upper part of the Eklunta in early September snow.

On the ridge looking towards Pellet Point and the Eklutna. Bashful & Baleful in the distance.

Last bit of glacier before heading up Pellet Point.

Pellet Peak was first climbed by Dave DeVoe and Steve Herrero in August 1965.  On the summit they found an owl pellet which they placed in a plastic bag and left under a cairn on the summit.  They named the peak Pellet Peak. Dave DeVoe worked as a city planner in Anchorage in the 60s and later worked for the Alaska Department of Transportation, Environmental Section. He retired in 1987. He was an active climber and member of the Mountaineering Club and climbed many peaks in the Chugach Range and was on the organizing committee that created Chugach State Park. He died in his sleep in June 2008 at the age of 76.

Steve Herrero went on to get his doctorate at from University of California, Berkeley in animal behavior and ecology. He then become a professor at the University of Calgary where he specializes in human / bear conflicts. He is considered to be the leading authority on bear attacks and safety and has written several books and dozen’s of research papers. He is currently 84 years old and still quoted regularly in the news.

The awful rotten exposed scree ledges. Traverse to the skyline lookers right and then scramble up the last bit of the Northeast Ridge to the summit.

Eric on the Northeast Ridge of Pellet. In the background is the ridge to Kelly.

Northeast Ridge of Pellet. To the left you can see the rotten ledges we came across.

Standing on Pellet Peak we looked down at the summit of Kelly Peak – the peak that was our actual objective. The first reported ascent of Kelly was by Tim Kelley who noted that there was a benchmark on the summit. Obviously USGS had been there first. I’m not sure how the peak came to be named Kelly Peak. Steve Gruhn claims he first heard the name from Wendy Sanem who had heard it from somewhere else. If you know how the name came to be let me know.

Ridge to Point 5285. Kelly is the peak on the left.

On the ridge to 5285. Booty Peak in the background.

Some of the Class 4ish rock on the ridge.

We continued down and across the ridge which alternated from snow climbing, to scree sidewalks, to short sections of steep rotten Class 4 rock. It was tricky until we gained Point 5285 – and the the difficulty eased off and the rest of the ridge towards the summit of Kelly was easy walking.

Looking north at the north side of White Lice and at Bold in the distance.

Looking back at Pellet Point and the ridge. In the distance is Beelzebub.

The South Ridge of Kelly Peak.

And finally Kelly – my 120th Chugach State Park peak. I have a phobia of being excited on top of peaks so I tried not to be too elated – but I won’t lie and say I wasn’t overwhelmed.  All around me were peaks that I had spent day and weeks scrambling around on.  My first Chugach State Park peak in 1996, my first time on the Eklutna Glacier in 2002. Days, weeks and month spent exploring places I had grown to love with many climbing partners whom I had grown close to over the years (of course a shout-out to my wife who joined me for 36 of those peaks and to Eric who joined me for 31 of those peaks !). It had been a wonderful journey that took me to many places I otherwise would never have visited.

The North Face of Insignificant. This would be a wonderful spring route!

Last steps to the summit of Kelly. The entire ridge we traversed is in the background.


Did I mention I have a phobia of being excited on summits? I don’t like to celebrate until I’m past all difficulties and completely safe. I quashed the excitement and we continued down the ridge and into the unknown. Our worry was that the river would be too high to cross and that we’d have to retrace our steps back to the hut  But the river crossing was easy.  We didn’t even get our feet wet.  The “trail” on the other hand wasn’t so nice.The moose path turned into a thick wall of alder and I while pulling myself through the brush my bear spray trigger caught on a branch and a stream of bear spray hosed into my chest. We staggered backwards choking and crying in the fog of pepper spray.  My phobia was confirmed as I thrashed through the thick alders coughing and unable to see.

Eric heading down the North Ridge.

Crossing the East Fork. Didn’t even get our feet wet!

No Chugach route is complete unless you do some alder thrashing!

Eventually we made it to the trail and the bikes.  And then riding out from Eklutna in the dark my eyes still watery from the pepper spray and my mind drifting to what lay beyond that last ridge on the horizon.

Eric Parsons awesome vid from our September 2020 trip. I started listening to Agalloch after he posted this.

Pellet to Kelly Peak Traverse

This is a big route that throws a little bit of everything at you. It begins with a bike ride to the East Fork trailhead, then a hike up Eklutna Glacier to Pischler’s Perch. The next day you ascend Eklunta Glacier almost to the Whiteout col then follow a ridgeline to the summit of Pellet Point.  Then you traverse the ridgeline to the summit of Kelly Peak.  Finally you descend Kelley and hike out the East Fork trail back to your bike. Expect everything from complex glacier travel to exposed Class 4 rock to thick brush.

Approach: Starting at Eklutna Lake bike the road/trail to the East Fork trailhead.  Stash your bike here and hike to Serenity Falls hut. Next follow the faint climbers trail on the east side of the creek to access Eklutna Glacier. Note that access to the glacier changes from year to year.  In 2000 it was a mellow tongue all the way down to Mitre Mite. In 2010 it was a complex jumbled ice route on the west side of the valley. In 2020 it was  scramble through the rocks on the east side of the valley with easy access to the ice.

Route: Once on Eklutna Glacier ascend the glacier to Pischler’s Perch. In recent years you start on climbers left and at the first icefall traverse climbers right to gain the moraine tongue. Follow this to the fork and then, swinging high to avoid the icefall, work your way back to the hut. The next day work your way up the glacier on the east side of the valley (in late summer there are a lot of crevasses to end run). At the top of the glacier work your way to the ridge and ascend the South Ridge of Pellet Point until it gets steep. Bypass the Class 5 rock by traversing the scree ledges to the Northeast Ridge (which you can then take to the top of Pellet).  Next traverse northeast towards Kelly Peak. Once on top of Kelly descend the North Ridge to the valley.  Note that there are two ways to get out of the valley and back to the trail: the moose trails that are on the east side of the meadows that ascend to 2190′ or the faint trail along the river that bypassed 2190′.  The lower route was brushed out sometime around 2021 – the upper route not so recently. (Lee Helzer has a GPX here.)

Gear: A little bit of everything: bike, glacier kit, axe/crampons, mountaineering boots and bear spray.

Distance/Time: Total roundtrip: 51 miles / 8500′. Of that distance 22 miles is by bike. 4 miles is hiking on the Eklutna Road, 10 miles on the Eklutna Glacier, 6 miles on the ridge and about 9 miles on the East Fork trail. We started at 2pm on a Friday and got back to the car at 10pm on a Saturday (and had a good 12 hour rest in the hut).

Season: Best done mid to late summer after all the snow has melted off the ridge.