Friday, August 19, 2011

Isolation Traverse

So here in Washington we also benefited from La Nina. And in the first week of June skiable snow still reached down to just under 3000 ft. I was fortunate enough to head up to Cascade Pass with three promising recruits to the PNW division of the Skier Boyz franchise.

The terrain was awesome and we managed to keep things nice and light -- 7 days worth of food, shelter, fuel and gear into 35L packs. Long days and great weather, with only a little stretch of low vis in the middle, made for a fun trip. We took our time heading North from Cascade Pass towards Eldorado and eventually pushing all the way to Diablo and the car that held the precious celebratory barley soda-pops. With two layover days there was plenty of time to get some turns in. After dinner corn skiing and some steeps in between. Check out the full trip report and pictures taken by both myself and Jason Hummel at:

Additional images of Jason's can be seen at:

I'm already fired up about the coming season and reuniting with Boyz (and Girlz) in AK, Utah, and anywhere else we might bring together big turns and deep snow (and maybe a little brown liquor).


Monday, August 15, 2011

Bleak and Bright Peaks: August 12

The Chugach State Park lies entirely in the municipality of Anchorage. It's over 500,000 acres and contains 50+ glaciers. There are also 86 peaks over 5,000' which may not sound very high, but remember you can also windsurf the Pacific Ocean in this park.

Bleak Peak (5,430') and Bright Peak (5,745') are best approached from the Eklutna Lake Trailhead (900'). I opted to bike the 5 flat miles along the lake to the Bold Ridge trail. (0:25). After a quick-ish transition, it was time to head up the Bold Ridge Trail: an old, steep double-track with frequent switchbacks.

Berry alert!
  • 2,100': watermelon berries aplenty
  • 3,000' - 3,500': killer blueberries / crowberries
I left the Bold Ridge trail at 3,000' and traversed west crossing Sdaylent and Bold Creek. Elevation preservation was pointless through the deep but soft brush. After crossing the second creek, I pointed it up the SW ridge of Bleak. The directisimo was crushing but it got the job done quickly. (3:50)

The ridge between Bleak and Bright appeared techy so I descended to the pass between Bleak / Bright, dropped down to 4,500' (on the lake side of the ridge), and traversed into a steep South Facing scree gully. The gully was exhausting due to extremely loose gravel, scree, and mud. After gaining the ridge, loose scree mud gravel continued to aggravate right up to the summit. (5:10) The views more than made up for the effort.

Bold Peak from Bright

Marcus Baker and the Knik Glacier from Bright

More Chugach Gnarl

Bright is further back than I had expected. The easiest way back to the Bold Ridge trail is to follow the gentle ridge towards Bold Peak. Game trails make for quick travel. At Hunter Creek Pass, descend into the valley under Bold's huge North Face. Conveniently located springs provide much needed cool water.

Reenergized and rehydrated, I was able to pick up the pace. Eventually a thin trailed appeared which gradually thickened and before long I was on the Bold Ridge trail again. Blueberries were best at 3,000'-3,500', but in a few weeks the eating will be good up to 4,500'. The hike/bike out was uneventful and I was back in the lot 8:30 after leaving.

View of the Upper Route

Two more CSP peaks down. Hopefully the weather holds and I can get a few more before the snow flies.

- William Blake (a meek accountant)