After work I drove to the South Fork Trail and began the 5-mile walk to Eagle Lake. For some reason, Chugach State Park decided to "improve" the trail a few summers back. What once was a meandering trail that blended well into the surroundings is now a boulevard wide and smooth enough for a motorized shopping cart. Stumps, gravel, and boulders now line the widened route where trees, top soil, and healthy vegetation once was. Oh, well...
|Looking Up the Valley|
Cantata - The Rocky One in the Middle
|South Fork Eagle River - Chock Full of Glacier Silt|
The climb rolls over and I gain the long flat ridge that leads to Point 3600 and drop off the back about 100' into a valley that leads up to a pass between two 4,700 points. There is intermittent water up here and I find an acceptable spot for camp around 4,000'.
|Symphony and Eagle Lakes from Camp|
|The 3 Summits of Hurdy Gurdy - Highest on the Right|
The fog rolled arrived soon after sunset and it was still socked in come morning. I started hiking around 7AM and quickly found about a dozen better camping spots within 100 yards of my camp. I gained the pass quickly and turned right maintaining elevation (4,500') and passed east of Point 4755 and another high point before regaining the ridge at the base of Mountain Cantata proper. It was time to climb.
From the col at 4,500' you're supposed to suss out the West Ridge of Cantata, but the fog obscured the route. There are a few cruxes on the West Ridge Route, but these can be avoided by getting off the ridge and scrambling across and up gullies on the South side.
The route is listed as Class 3 and I promise myself not to get on anything tougher than that. Often I would come to a Class 4 or 5 section and be forced to retreat. The fog was thick and I struggled to interpret the hints of trails, tumbled cairns, and the occasional flagging which marked the passage of climbers more comfortable with exposure than I. But through patience and persistence I worked higher and higher sticking to my Class 3 limit. There was plenty of back-tracking, up, downs, backs, and forths, but I was making progress. Higher into the fog, but the thick fog was getting noticeably thinner.
|A Random Dirt Glacier - Mirror Lake|
|Eagle Peak Rising Up|
|Ancient Ice Plastered to the Face of Mountain Calliope|
|Brocken Spectre from the Summit|
Fatigue was setting in, I made some cocoa and got into some sugary treats while breaking down camp. Feeling rejuvenated, I hustled down towards the lakes. I finally got under the fog to reveal a grey day that gave no hint of the glory above. The walk out went quickly: route to path to boulder field to trail to boulevard. I was about 2 hours late getting back to town and ready to accept the consequences. But my mind kept returning to the sunny peak and plans for the next adventure.