Encounter Peak aka Mount Encounter is situated on the Snow River Glacier in the Kenai Mountains of the Seward Ranger District of Alaska’s Chugach National Forest. This peak is unnamed, but has been nicknamed Encounter Peak or Mount Encounter due to a black bear encounter some years ago. In short, a group was near the summit and spotted a black bear on the lower glacier. A member of the group yelled in excitement gaining the bear’s attention. The bear ascended the peak and blocked the group’s egress from the mountain while eating their lunch.
This is not the most challenging peak to climb, however it does offer some large crevasses to navigate through and a very esthetic approach. This is a great area to explore and is a good expedition climb.
From Anchorage, take the Seward Highway approximately 100 miles south to mile marker 23 and turn into the Ptarmigan Creek Campground.
The easiest approach is to start at the campground and take the Ptarmigan Creek Trail east approximately 7 miles until it ends at the far end of Ptarmigan Lake. This is a great place to camp for the first night. From there, you will have to continue off trail heading northeast to gain the glacier.
From the eastern edge of Ptarmigan Lake, everything becomes wilderness. Be prepared for map and compass navigation. The topo is USGS Seward B-6 (Ptarmigan Lake is on the far left center side of the map, Encounter Peak is on the top right corner).
Falls Creek, located one valley to the north of Ptarmigan Creek Trail/Lake, is another option. There is a small unmaintained trail that runs up valley following the creek. However, there are some very steep sections of tundra that have to be traversed after coming over the pass at the end of the valley.
It is also possible to enter via one valley and return through the other.
The approach can take 2-3+ days, but the climb can easily be done in a day. For longer expeditions, helicopter resupply is available from a service located in Girdwood (link below).
Check in with the Forest Service to evaluate conditions and any special permit requirements prior to departure.
USDA Forest Service - Seward Ranger District
334 4th Avenue P.O. Box 390 Seward, AK 99664
If entering from the Falls Creek area, be forewarned that there is a property owner that considers the road entry to the National Forest to be his as well. He has been rumored to carry a gun and threaten hikers. Pass quickly, quietly, and with respect. If conflicts arise, depart from the area and contact authorities.
Ptarmigan Lake Snow River Glacier
Camping can be found on the east side of Ptarmigan Lake, which makes for a good rest point prior to heading to the glacier.
The best location for a base camp is on the Snow River Glacier. The glacier is predominately flat and great camping spots can be easily located.
External LinksChugach National Forest – Seward Ranger District home page:
Ptarmigan Lake Campground:
Alpine Air Alaska (helicopter resupply):
Backcountry camping in bear country: