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East Twin Peak
Mountain/Rock

East Twin Peak

 
East Twin Peak

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Alaska, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 61.44480°N / 149.1443°W

Object Title: East Twin Peak

Activities: Mountaineering, Scrambling

Season: Summer, Fall

Elevation: 5873 ft / 1790 m

 

Page By: chugach mtn boy

Created/Edited: Oct 12, 2011 / Oct 4, 2012

Object ID: 753392

Hits: 5118 

Page Score: 90.09%  - 31 Votes 

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Overview



The Twin Peaks rise nearly 6000 feet directly from sea level in a mountain front reminiscent of the Tetons. The name notwithstanding, there are three twins: East Twin, West Twin, and Goat Rock. East Twin is both the highest and the most accessible of the group, and it offers a superb grandstand over the Mat Su Valley far below, fjord-like Eklutna Lake, and the ice-bound crest of the Chugach Range farther east.

East Twin sees only about a dozen ascents a year. This is fortunate because most parties use the main south gully route, which (due to rockfall danger) is not a route you’d want to share with another party.

 
Twins from the North
The Twins from Palmer Hayflats on their north side. East Twin is the highest summit; West Twin and Goat Rock are the pair of lower summits to the right.
 
From the South
East Twin as seen from the south, near the trailhead.

Getting There

 
Eklutna Lake & Bold Peak
The trailhead is so pleasant you may not want to leave.

East Twin is climbed from the Eklutna Lake trailhead at the outlet of Eklutna Lake. Take the either the Eklutna or Thunderbird Falls exit from the Glenn Highway (Alaska Highway 1) about 26 miles north of Anchorage, and follow signs to Eklutna Lake. Park near the boat launch.

Routes

Main south gully, cl. 3-4: This is the regular route up East Twin. My impression is that it has changed over the years, with some of the rock steps being filled in by steep scree. The changes may explain why the one published guidebook description I have found is highly inaccurate. The description you see here corresponds to conditions in 2011.

From the parking at the end of the Eklutna Lake road, elevation 900 feet, follow the prominent signs for the Twin Peaks Trail. This trail climbs 1800 feet in 2.6 miles, passing one park bench and continuing to a second one at treeline. It’s on an old road bed, which makes for excellent footing and fast travel.
 
East Twin Route Illustration
Approach illustration--see text. The uphill angle of this photo greatly foreshortens the upper part of the mountain.

At the end of the trail, sit on the park bench and size up East Twin. There’s a big central gully, which is your eventual route, but to avoid brush you’re going to swing way right (B in the photo at right), climb 2000 feet of tundra, and then traverse into the gully quite high (C in the photo).

OK, get up from the bench and get back to work. Start your ascent by dropping to the creek on a good path and join the little path on the far side (A), following it for another 10 or 15 minutes before turning left toward the peak. Get into the south gully high, but before the cliff bands begin. Climb the gully on boulders for a few hundred feet until it turns to miserable scree, just before it makes a big bend to the left.

Here you can continue up the gully (hard work), or bypass its midsection by scrambling up ledges to reach the more exposed but pleasant class 4 climbing on the rock rib to the left. These variants rejoin on the upper mountain, where the gully (or ledges to its right) bring you to the col just east of the summit. In dry conditions, the summit itself is just a walk from here, wandering up the top margin of the north face. If the north face is icy, these final steps can be sketchy.

Don’t do this route if you’re not comfortable on steep, sliding scree, because there is a lot of it. Most parties will avoid some, but not all, of the scree by means of bypasses on steeper rock. Helmets are advisable because of the risk of knocking rocks on each other.

Car to summit takes 3-5 hours.

East Ridge, class 4 or 5.0: This ridge is gained by going to Twins Pass and then following the crest. I did the route a long time ago in poor weather, and I recall one very exposed step that I assessed as easy fifth class, but it’s possible this can be avoided. At any rate, this ridge is harder than the south gully.

Other routes: The west ridge has been done and is reportedly fifth class with poor rock.

Summit Views

 
Bold and Bashful
Bold Peak and Bashful Peak from East Twin after and early August snowstorm. At 8005 feet, Bashful is the highest in Chugach State Park.
 
Summit View Northward
Down the north face of the Twins to Butte and Palmer, 5800 feet below.

Red Tape

There is a parking fee of $5 per day at the trailhead, unless you have an annual parking pass. Bring exact change.

The mountain itself is managed as part of Chugach State Park under a management agreement, although it's not within the formal, statutory park boundary. Park regulations apply.

Camping

Camping is legal in this area and wouldn't be too hard to do in the tundra just beyond the end of the Twin Peaks Trail. Groups of more than a dozen will need a permit. Campfires are not allowed.

Weather

Weather in the area of the Twins can be dramatically different from Anchorage. Below is a weather forecast for Palmer, below the north face:
Click for Palmer, Alaska Forecast

For weather at Thunderbird falls, below the outlet of the Eklutna Valley, click here. There is currently no weather data available online for the Eklutna Lake trailhead itself, 900 feet higher and farther into the mountains.

Alternative Names

East Twin was called Lach Q'a by the Upper Cook Inlet Dena’ina. White settlers called it Goat Peak, and referred to the two neighbors (now West Twin and Goat Rock) as the Twins. A USGS mapping error many decades ago caused a name shift. The new "East Twin" moniker for the highest of the three peaks has stuck and is in universal use today.

Links

Description of trails at Eklutna Lake

Chugach State Park

Native Village of Eklutna

Images

Bold and BashfulEast Twin from Knik RiverThe Twin Peaks, Chugach MountainsTwins from the NorthTwins from the NorthwestEklutna Lake & Bold PeakView Eastward
Mt. Marcus BakerFrom the SouthViews on AscentSummit View NorthwardEast Twin Route IllustrationE Twin Peak from the ridge