Blackerby Ridge offers direct access to Cairn Peak. The ridge itself is broad and does not contain any technical climbing, nor does it have any exposed sections. It is, however, a long and taxing route. One attempting Blackerby should allow for plenty of daylight and be prepared for a full day of strenous hiking.
Getting ThereFrom downtown Juneau take Egan Drive south to Salmon Creek (turnoff for the hospital). Turn right. Make another right on Wire Street, then left on Greenwood Avenue. The trailhead is on right side of the road.
The route starts at the base of Vanderbilt Hill and rapidly becomes steep as it takes you through the dense hemlock forest. Expect the trail to contain no switchbacks and be very wet. During a rainy day this trail could be a regretful experience. Through the forest you will pass through thick blueberry and salmonberry patches.
After tree line, the trail continues to gain the ridge. Once in view, Blackerby Ridge is a breathtaking sight. The alpine setting is a surreal green, covered with wildflowers, and commonplace for mountain goats, eagles, willow ptarmigans and black bears. The trail is faint and at times will completely fade, but does continue to the summit.
The final push up Cairn Peak’s southwest slope is quite steep. The trail will lead you to a short section of rotten rock (class 3) and from there the summit is only a few hundred feet away.
Essential GearDress appropriately. The rains are very consistent and can easily penetrate through your gear. I recommend dressing in clothing that can get wet and still keep you warm- wool works great. Then, above tree line, change into dry clothes and rain gear. Waterproof boots are necessary and gators help keep your socks dry. I learned to wear them under my pants so the water wouldn't soak from my pants into my socks. Bring extra dry/warm stuff.
When to ClimbThe climbing season in Southeast Alaska is typically very short. Snow can linger well into June and create dangerous snow bridges and potential for wet-slides. The winters are consistently wet and because of the steep terrain, avalanche potential is common. The best time to climb is late June through late August. Monsoon season typically starts around early September.
External LinksFor more information about mountains in the area contact the members of Juneau Alpine Club.
Juneau Trails by Alaska Natural History Association is also a great resource.