Sunday, March 20, 2011

Shakespeare & Whittier Glaciers

Everyone has a peak to stalk. For Hubert, it's Mountain Bard. Bard looms high above Portage Lake just west of Whittier. We elected to pay the $12 tunnel toll to start in Whittier instead of crossing Portage Lake. After exiting the tunnel we turned right at the National Forest access signage. The road crosses the tracks and meanders through the thicket. Eventually the plowing ends at a WWII bomb shelter. We geared up and followed the road past another 5 shelters and up a frozen creek to Portage Pass.

Hubert at the Pass
(Portage Glacier and Portage Lake in the Background)

From the pass, Bard towers overhead so we decided on the directisimo up the NE Face. The skinner steepened and the booting was underway. The snow got firm and out came the axe and clamp-ons. The route was fast becoming spicy, cruxy, and generally unfriendly, so we clicked in and schussed down to the Shakespeare Glacier. Plan B was to skin up the glacier and gain a high ridge. Hubert elected to center punch the glacier rather than follow the existing meandering track.

"I would give all my fame for a pot of Fresca"
William Shakespeare, Henry V

We eventually (and uneventfully) gained the ridge between Bard and Shakespeare Shoulder at about 3,000' and the wind was ripping. The ridge looked relatively straight forward but the wind was starting to pick up. After a short deliberation, we pealed the skins and dropped in on the Whittier Glacier.

Looking Down on the Whittier Glacier and Prince William Sound

The Whittier Glacier was very variable, a common theme this year. Eventually we popped out at a play ground in the town of Whittier. After a quick juice box break we began the 3 mile walk back to the other trailhead. A 20 mph headwind made the walk a bit of slog, but it went quick.

Mountain Maynard between Whittier and Portage

Hubert didn't summit his peak, but he didn't get a restraining order either. Armed with critical personal information, the stalker will increase the lurking over the next few weeks in an attempt to persuade his victim to yield to his prowess.

- George Hardy

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