Hello mountain lovers! My name is Sadie and it is my pleasure to add the first trip report on climbing Sadie Peak, off of Kachemak Bay in south central Alaska.
If you have ever been to Homer, Alaska, then you have heard of, or maybe even visited, Sadie Cove. It is a tranquil, relatively untouched cove across the bay from Homer. Reachable only by boat but it does have a few very nice 'wilderness' lodges. Rising out of the back of this cove is the majestic Sadie Peak, the tallest one in the area, easily seen from Homer on a clear day.
I knew of Sadie cove as long as I have known my own name but just realized there was a Sadie Peak on this last trip home. I grew up in central Alaska and loved family trips down to the Homer area to Halibut fish, sea kayak, mountain bike, and camp. Fast forward to my adulthood, living out of state now, and Homer was my first stop on my summer trip back to my home state. My mom also now lives in Homer so this is where I started my 3 week visit. When I showed up in Homer my parents were waiting outside the tiny airport with kayaks already loaded on the car and everything ready to go for a three day kayak jaunt across Kachemak Bay. We had a great time, including climbing China Poot Peak, fishing, and berry picking. I first heard of Sadie Peak in Mako's water taxi (boat) as we bumped back across the choppy bay with kayaks in the back. We started talking with some fellow boat taxi patrons (that I noticed had ice axes and gaiters on). Turns out the tallest peak in the area is named after me! How could I not climb it?!
The next day I pulled out my topo map of Kachemak Bay and picked out a few possible routes and then did some serious digging for some beta. I searched on the internet (California method) and called some friends of my parents' who were known to do crazy things, like climb mountains for fun (Alaska method). I found absolutely nothing on the interwebs but some sheep hunting friends of my mom's had been to the top of the adjacent ridge and suggested an obvious avalanche gulch off of the back Sadie Cove as the best approach, not gaining the long ridge from Sadie Knob, which was what I would have chosen based on my topo alone. I had forgotten that in Alaska route finding concern number one is how to avoid the uncanny dense Alders and Birch thickets (bush-wacking from hell). I found this gulch on my map and made a reservation for Mako the taxi boat guy to take me back across the bay the next day. In the meantime, my parents were concerned about this objective; no trail, zero beta, and they were still sore from the adventure we just ended. As a budding mountaineer, however, I was stoked. I finally talked my mom into going along by assuring her we could make it a two day trip and she could man the "base camp" while I summit the second day. So, we packed!
We got dropped off on the beach at the base of the avalanche gulch approach. We climbed approximately 2,000 ft straight up the gulch, alternating sides of the stream, climbing on or under the remnant snow, to a perfect campsite off the gulch a little to climbers right. This amazing 2-person-tent sized divot in the steep tundra slope forms a great small shelf overlooking Sadie Cove, with a view to die for- a.k.a. The Campsite of Joy. We set up camp, cooked dinner, and drank some wine as the sun went down. Glamping compared to every other mountaineering experience I have had but definitely mom approved.
I left camp around 8am, traveled up diagonal right a couple hundred feet to a bench and followed it across to the bowl below Sadie Peak, about 0.8 mi distance from camp. You gain the last little bit of elevation to get out of bush territory pretty quickly and it transitions into a pure wildflower explosion on steep (40-45 deg) tundra slopes. I was picturing how to self-arrest through lupines but never had to try it. The bowl beneath the peak has some snow covered moraine mounds and a prevalent steep gash leading up to the summit with no snow, another avalanche drainage that looks inviting- DO NOT go up this. I was so enamored by this new avalanche gulch short cut trick that I tried this first. It runs straight up to the summit and was the only exposed rock I could see, besides the gentle ridge on climber's right, and sheer-ish rock face on climbers left that lead up to a much higher ridge. Everything else around was still snow covered. I had crampons and my trusty ice ax but I thought I had learned short cuts could pay off- NOPE. First, it is a rockfall funnel and I saw the evidence of this embedded in the snow all around. Second, there is water running over the exposed rock bed that increases in volume as you go up. And third, it quickly steepens into 5th class. Not what I had in mind for this solo peak bagging. I finally backed off when I realized I was having a lot of fun rock climbing but with no belayer. I backed down and eventually got my heart rate back under control after a baseball sized rock wizzed by. To get back on track I traversed climbers right across the snow field and gained the gentle right ridge to the summit. The sheep hunters had told me this was the best bet. If I had chosen this first I really would not have needed my crampons but the ax was great on this 3rd and 4th class snow and rock scramble. I reached the summit by noon but, alas, it was socked in with clouds. With my ax in the air on the summit rock mound I bellowed out something along the lines of 'THIS IS MY MOUNTAIN! WOOO HOOOO!', then I ate my lunch, took a few selfies, and climbed, glissaded, and frolicked back to camp.
After breaking camp the descent was pretty quick thanks to scree-skiing and, of course, gravity.
In conclusion- do this one! I recommend bringing a tent and your mom, also. This was a special adventure i'll never forget.