OverviewThe Crew:Jaya, Sean, Kine, and Gabe(me)
Length of Route: 15 miles
Number of Days: 7 (very reasonable in 4 days, could be done in 3 days with out much problem).
Date: July 19th to July 25th
Getting There: In the Matsu valley of Hatcher Pass about 56 miles from Anchroage AK. Follow the Golden Mint Trail.
There are a few huts on the traverse. The Mint Hut and the Bomber Hut are owned by the Mountaineering Club of Alaska and are available to the public via membership in the MCA ($15/year for individuals). It is membership dues that pay for the lease and maintenance of these huts.
Day oneStart time: 1 Pm (61deg- 46.797min N-149deg -11.628min W, 1809 feet)
Finished at: 5 Pm (61.83412 N - 149.08825 W 2800 feet)
Elevation Change: +1000 feet
Distance: 13 km
Terrain: Big well maintained trail, Small trail.
Hiked up the valley for a few hours until we found a good camp spot. We were next to a river so water was easy
Day twoStart time: 10 AM (61.83412 N - 149.08825 W 2800 feet)
Elevation change: +3700, -1600
Distance: 7 km
Time: 8 hrs
Terrain: Trail, Scree, relatively flat glacier
We started gaining elevation right away. Sean was leading the group for the day but wasn,t feeling so hot. The trail was easy to follow until we got to the Golden Mint Hut (61.85744 N, 149.08121 W 4300).
At that point the trail is hard to follow Almost due north you will see a 6500 foot peak. We scrambled up about 2000 feet to the NE ridge off the peak.
Really fun scrambling, some loose rock, not to bad to the pass.
From the ridge (61.87315 N -149.07898 W, 6430 feet) there is a short steep section to get down to the glacier.
From the Rock Carren it was about 20 feet and almost straigt down. About 30 feet to the NE there was a rope the help you down but we followed on the SE side of the SW ridge about 200 feet to a saddle. Eaither way this is the crux of the whole route.
From there we glisaded down the glacier until we hit bare ice.
We transistioned to crampons but you could have excited to the NE side of the glacier and followed it down. Before we got to the toe of the glacier I stopped to fill my water bottle in a 4 foot deep slot canyon. In this process I managed to knock one of my trekking poles into the slot canyon where it quickly dissapered under a snow plug. Brand new teakking poles too, I felt like an idiot. From there we posted camp at a beautiful location in the valley (61.87940 N -149.10022 W, 4780 feet).
Day threeDistance: 1 km from camp to peak
Elevation: 1300 ft to summit
Time: 3 hours round to peak and back to camp
Terrain: Scree, rocks, gravel
We decided to leave camp and do a day hike up a mountain to the NW of camp (Peak:61.89089 N -149.11001 W, 5970 feet). From camp it was difficult to figure the best way up the mountain. The west ridge looked tame but a little out of the way. We figured we could scramble pretty much directly up on the East side of the South ridge. The weather was so amazing that on the way we decided to cool off on a lake at the base of the mountain. The South ridge ended up being a great route selection. The scrambling was really fun, safe, and strudy. Great view from the top.
We thought we would take the West ridge down but it turns out that it is really unstable and though from a distance is looks mellow there are small but very steep sections. We ended up going back down the south ridge. We still had lots of time when we got back to camp so we headed back to the glacier armed with cooking pans to try and dig out my lost trekking pole. I was the first one there, and was very doubtful. I started by kicking at the snow by the first bend in the snow plugged slot canyon. Luckly it gave out due to a hollow where I had kicked and there was my pole. It was going to take alot of digging to get to where I could reach to pole. Jaya recomended going in head first. So Kine and Jaya held my feet with my torso in the hole and my ass in the air I was just barly abel to reach down and retrieve my trekking pole. Too easy.
Day 4Distance: 1 km
Elevation: - 400 ft
Time: 1 hour
Terrain: Scree, rocks, gravel
Slept in and moved camp down valley 1 KM.
Sean was having major blister problems so after setting up camp he hung out there while Jaya, Kine and I went to go check up the bomber glacier, SE of camp (camp: 61.87323,-149.1152, 4,400 feet). In 1957 a bomber crashed into the glacier and left wreckage all over the glacier. It was a pretty cool thing to check out. Pieces of aircraft we all over the glacier. location of the crash (61.87092 N -149.09838 W, 5200 feet).
Day 5Another Rest day. Sean was able to do a small day hike 3 KM northwest of camp where we were able to get a view of our exit route. On the way we stopped and checked out the bomber hut (61.88152 N -149.12353 W, 4400 feet ), nice place with all sorts of whacky reading material. We continued hiking to the West to our viewpoint. Kine and I hiked up a mellow 5140 foot peak about half a KM north of where Jaya and Sean turned around.
Day 6Start time 9 AM at camp three (61.87323 N, 149.1152 W, 4,400 feet)
Elevation: -600 , +1600, -1200 ft
Distance: 15 km
Time: 8 hours
Terrain: Scree, bushwacking, river crossings, gravel, flat glacier.
We packed up in the morning and left camp at about 9 AM headed West with Sean in lead. We did our best to stay on the south side of the river we were following down the valley until it meet another river draining the valley to the south.
We started up the valley headed south looking for a lake which was our indication to start scrambling up a scree field.
We accidentally passed the lake by about 10 minutes to a larger lake and had to go back. From the Lake we scrambled up the rocks to the West about 500 vertical feet. There we walked around another lake continuing on a similar scramble up another 500 vertical feet to an elevation of 4800 ft to a ridge just about the snowbird glacier. The snowbird glacier was flat and had no snow on our route so we were able to easily cross it with out crampons.
Getting onto the glacier was no problem and moving across it was fun and fast. We followed the glacier south to the Snowbird pass (61.846249 N, 149.199357 W, 5200 ft).
The fog rolled in thick at the pass but fortunately we found the trail and dropped 1200 feet to camp four (61.83201,-149.202576, 4000 ft).
Day 7, Exit dayStart time: 14:00 (61.83201,-149.202576, 4000 ft)
Elevation: -1800 ft
Distance: 3 km
Time: 2 hours
Terrain: Steep slippery trail, Big flat easy wide trail.
We didn't have very far to go so we slept in. Jaya taught us how to completely take apart our MSR stoves and fix any problem. Kine found a snowboard at camp, a good one in good condition. She was stoked and brought it home. The trail was steep and really slippery and we all fell on our asses at least once. Really fun trip.