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Hiking from Aleyska

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Hiking from Aleyska

Postby Lila » Tue May 03, 2011 8:41 pm

Hi. Hoping that local Anchorage folks will offer suggestions and trail info/conditions for a hike from Aleyska/Girdwood up to Crow Pass cabin. I know this area can be prone to avalanche to local conditions would be great to know. I hike in Colorada and I understand that opinions/assessments may vary on the danger level, but some input would be great.

If Crow Pass doesn't make sense, I'd happily take other suggestions. I will be in Anchorage next week for work (Tues - Friday morning) and I'd like to climb high and spend one night in the backcountry (hiking Friday with with an overnight and return to the airport by 10:30pm on Saturday for a red-eye return. Summiting a mountain would be great, but not essential. I plan to bring snowshoes, ice axe, crampons, plus the usual standard stuff.

Thanks.
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Re: Hiking from Aleyska

Postby chugach mtn boy » Tue May 03, 2011 10:33 pm

I think Indian Creek Pass might make more sense than Crow Pass at this particular time. Here's a pic of the Indian Creek Pass area http://www.summitpost.org/winter-view/691131 and a map http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/maps/indianvalley.jpg
Of course there are many other options depending how flexible you are about the starting point. PM if you want to discuss further.
Last edited by chugach mtn boy on Wed May 04, 2011 8:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hiking from Aleyska

Postby Steve Gruhn » Wed May 04, 2011 6:33 am

Avalanche conditions in the Western Chugach Mountains are pretty high right now because the warm temperatures have turned the snow isothermal. I saw evidence of an hours-old avalanche yesterday up Falls Creek and two weeks ago I was caught in an avalanche up Four Mile Creek.

The Crow Pass Trail parallels a classic terrain trap. I would recommend finding somewhere else to go during these conditions. I'm planning a climbing trip near Indian Creek Pass this coming Saturday; it should be quite a bit safer than the Crow Pass Trail.
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Re: Hiking from Aleyska

Postby Lila » Wed May 04, 2011 7:35 pm

Steve,

I am hearing you. It makes sense to avoid this area.

Are you willing to tell me about your planned trip? Maybe I can use your info to do something similar.

-Mike aka Lila (Lila's my dog)
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Re: Hiking from Aleyska

Postby Steve Gruhn » Wed May 04, 2011 9:01 pm

The planned trip is to climb Bidarka Peak (3835), which is about a mile southeast of Indian Creek Pass. To avoid avalanche concerns, I plan to get an early start (say 5 a.m.) and be out of the snow by about noon.
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Re: Hiking from Aleyska

Postby Lila » Thu May 05, 2011 5:02 am

Steve,

Last year at this time I hiked up Bird Ridge to Bird Ridge Overlook. I must have had a good view of Bidarka Peak that day. Interesting. I've got some good photos from that day, but I don't know how to post them here.

Mike
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Re: Hiking from Aleyska

Postby chugach mtn boy » Thu May 05, 2011 9:46 pm

Mike, if you head back to Bidarka this weekend, take some pics and we'll get 'em posted to a new Bidarka peak page. I haven't completed a page on Bidarka yet due to lack of presentable photos, but with any encouragement I'll probably add it to SP this summer.

And Steve, inquiring minds want to know ... you were actually caught in an avalanche two weeks ago? :shock: There must be a story here! Tell us.
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Re: Hiking from Aleyska

Postby Steve Gruhn » Fri May 06, 2011 1:29 am

At about 9:30 p.m. on April 19, I triggered a small, slow-moving slab avalanche when I stumbled while crossing an approximately 20-foot wide patch of snow between two tundra "islands." The incident occurred at about 3,500 feet on a shaded, west-southwest-facing slope in the Four Mile Creek drainage about 0.2 mile southeast of Peak 4009. The fracture face was about 2 feet high. The slope angle was about 20 degrees where I started it and probably 27 to 30 degrees at the fracture line some 100 feet above. Of the three of us in the party, I was the only person who was caught and I managed to ride on top of the slide for a couple hundred feet before it stopped. I was not injured and I didn't get buried or lose any gear.

I'm cameraless, so don't count on any photos of Bidarka from me this weekend.

I've climbed Bidarka Peak twice - once in late April and once in early June - but don't have any photos to show for it.
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Re: Hiking from Aleyska

Postby chugach mtn boy » Fri May 06, 2011 6:50 am

Hmmm, interesting cautionary tale, thanks.

No, I know you rely on your photographic mind and don't do cameras. It's this fellow Mike I was trying to tempt to take some pictures.
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Re: Hiking from Alyeska

Postby Steve Gruhn » Sun May 08, 2011 8:37 am

Snow conditions quite soft under a breakable crust this morning. A lot of recent natural avalanche activity on east-, west-, and north-facing slopes. The snow was too soft at 8:30 a.m. on the north side of Bidarka Peak to continue, so we aborted the trip. We did see a wolverine, though, so that was kind of neat.
Last edited by Steve Gruhn on Fri May 13, 2011 12:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hiking from Aleyska

Postby Jackrussellterrier » Thu May 12, 2011 11:08 pm

Lila, aka Mike, now Jackrussellterrier, here. Yes, I'm having some computer issues and re-created a new account.

Steve, thanks for your report. A wolverine siting is pretty awesome, a good consulation (sp?) prize for the bad snow conditions. I am here in Anchorage now and hoping to finish work by noon on Friday. I still want to get into the back country some for Friday night. Any recommendations based on what you experienced last week? Something in the Chugach is best for me based on my limited time. What equipment should I bring also --- snowshoes? crampons?

My vague ideas include hiking Flattop or something like that.... Yes, I will take some photos along the way.

Thanks!
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Re: Hiking from Alyeska

Postby Steve Gruhn » Fri May 13, 2011 12:51 am

Crampons are probably not required unless you're doing something that's near vertical. Snowshoes could be useful if you're down low or on anything except south-facing slopes. I climbed Flaketop Peak (4510) southeast of Flattop Mountain on Monday evening after work. We had four seasons of weather in that outing - snow, sleet, graupel, fog, sunshine, calm, and breeze.

Given that you're getting off mid-day, you'll probably want to devote yourself to some south-facing slopes. Rainbow, Eklutna, Magnificent, Flaketop, Ptarmigan, South Suicide, McHugh, Bird Ridge Point, Tit, POW/MIA, Pepper, and The Wedge are probably your best chances for success in the Anchorage area. Some of these will requires snowshoes for the approach (Wedge). Others with well-traveled trails or southern exposures will not (Rainbow, Flaketop, Bird Ridge Point).
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Re: Hiking from Aleyska

Postby chugach mtn boy » Fri May 13, 2011 7:07 am

Of the ones Steve mentioned, Rainbow Peak is a delight this time of year and is snow-free by the class 3 prow route or the regular route. http://www.summitpost.org/rainbow-peak/618183

To Steve's list of good early season candidates I'd add Harp Mountain
http://www.summitpost.org/harp-mountain/680400

If you're looking to go up Friday evening and camp, South Suicide is a good thought, camping at one of the (frozen) lakes below. Or this one, which has nice ridgetop camping: http://www.summitpost.org/mt-magnificent/566512
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