OverviewPolar Bear Peak is an iconic mountain and anybody who goes to visit the Eagle River Nature Center gets to gawk at this beauty.
FA: Clarence Serfoss and Vin Hoeman, September 6, 1966, SE Ridge
Getting ThereThe approach to Polar Bear Peak used to be heinous in the form of a bushwack but no more. Thanks to Dave Hart and company, there is a fairly nice, small trail that goes up the Heritage Falls drainage.
Start at the Eagle River Nature Center and hike the Historic Iditarod Trail back about 6 miles or so. (Nobody really knows the distance. That's Alaskan trails for you.) Pass Icicle Creek and immediately look right (south) across Eagle River for Organ Creek/Heritage Falls Drainage. The confluence of Eagle River and Organ Creek is precisely where you meet the trail for this one. You must cross Eagle River to get over to the trail, which can definitely be the crux. Know how to cross rivers. Cross Eagle River and find the trail. Note that if you do not find the trail, you'll be in for a world class bushwack. The trail is really fun and goes up about 3000 feet to a bench below Polar Bear Peak and the Organ Glacier.
Red TapeYou will need to pay a parking fee at the Eagle River Nature Center, which runs at $5/day or $10 for up to 3 nights.
CampingCamp wherever you want. But be responsible for yourself, and respectful for others and the environment.
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Start from the base down on Organ Creek and head up inviting, rolling terrain up to a steeper headwall. Climb it directly (3rd class apparently) or go around left and traverse right onto a steeper face. Climb up snow/rock up to the Bearskin Glacier (the hanging glacier just below Polar Bear's summit). Head straight up the Bearskin to the summit block(no cracks except a bergschrund out on the far right side). Most rope up at the summit block. Once at the summit block, start up a left-trending weakness (4th class) to a right-trending ledge. Take the ledge to the right skyline ridge. Then, one more pitch of exposed 3rd class rock takes you to the summit.
Follow the NW Face route up to the summit block. Climb the first pitch of 4th class rock and up the right trending ramp as per the standard route. Then, just before you hit the ridge, go up and left up a 100ft obvious chimney, which is 5.5. in difficulty. Cams can be placed and there is a 2 piton/1 nut fixed anchor at the base of the chimney that can be used for belay and rappelling the 4th class pitch on the way down.
This is on the opposite side of the mountain from the NW Face. Note that the approach is different to this route from that mentioned above. You'll need to follow the Historic Iditarod Trail another 7 miles or so crossing Eagle River at a fjord site. Follow the trail until it looks inviting to bushwack and work your way up to the ridge. Apparently the ridge is easy until you reach about 6000 feet. After this point, the climbing is technical rock on a knife edge ridgeline.
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