Excellent hike through the rainforests around Juneau emerging at the top of the tramway on the way up to Gastineau Peak. Lots of bear scat and berries.
The weather forecast was not good for the next few days, so it was a tough decision whether or not to attempt Gastineau Peak or not, especially since there was lots of snow in the mountains because of the earliness of the season. We decided to give the mountain a try, but if conditions were too bad we would turn back. We were well prepared for bad weather and snow.
We started climbing the peaks right from the Juneau Hostel. Two others from the hostel joined us for the climb. They were Don and Bobby (father and son) from Texas.
From the hostel, we walked up the roads to the trail that ascends to the top of the tramway. We quickly climbed through the forest to the tramway, which was in the clouds, but with occasional breaks in the clouds. At the tramway we were told that climbing Gastineau Peak was impossible with the current conditions and this early in the season. We were then told that we might be able to climb up to the Gold Ridge (we had snow boots), but that this was not certain.
With the discouraging news and with a mix of fog and breaks in the fog we all set off towards Gold Ridge. It was a beautiful climb with occasional breaks in the clouds making for some good views. There were also several entertaining marmots along the trail and some nice wildflowers. Not far above the tramway we started crossing snowfields. They weren’t difficult, but were wet.
After crossing a very long snowfield we headed north and climbed to the highest summit along the Gold Ridge. By the time we reached the summit, the views were almost completely obscured by fog.
After eating an early lunch on the summit of Gold Ridge, Don, Kimberly and Shaylee decided to head back towards the tramway where they would wait for us. Bobby, Kessler and I decided to attempt to climb the impossible Gastineau Peak.
We retreated from Gold Ridge and to the ridgeline heading towards Gastineau Peak. It was almost completely snow covered and visibility was poor so we were very careful in noting landmarks (such as boulders) so we could find our way back (we also had a map and compass). We made our way towards Gastineau Peak through the snow through an almost whiteout.
By the time we reached the summit of (“the impossible”) Gastineau Peak, we has some partial clearing and could see a few hundred yards. From the summit of Gastineau Peak, we could feel the pull of Mount Roberts and decided to try for the next “impossible peak”.
The ridge between Gatineau Peak and Mount Roberts was much longer than it appeared to be on the map and it took longer than we thought it would. We made our way through the whiteout (while making BIG steps in the snow) until the ridge steepened just below the summit of Mount Roberts.
There was a steep snow slope to cross and I wished I had brought my ice axe. I did have my trekking poles so I kicked and carved steps up the hard snow so Bobby and Kessler could still climb the slope using my steps. It was time consuming, but eventually we were at the top of the snowfield and the summit was only steps away. It was our second impossible peak of the day so we felt rather pleased with ourselves.
We found a bare spot at the summit where we rested for a little bit. There wasn’t any visibility, but we thought that the views from her must be incredible if the weather is good.
After a short rest, we headed down the mountain. The ridge to Gastineau was again long, but with our observation of the landmarks, our steps in the snow and with the map and compass we were able to find our way back through the whiteout to Gastineau Peak without too much trouble. Once we were at the summit of Gastineau Peak we made our way as quickly as we could back to the top of the tramway where the views once again occasionally showed when the clouds would partially part. Shaylee, Kimberly and Don were happy to see us at the tramway. We told the little visitor center that we had made it all the way to Mount Roberts, but we weren’t sure if they believed us or not.
Since the tramway lets you have a free ride down if you purchase items/food, we ate big bowls of soup before riding the tramway back to Juneau where we walked back to the hostel.
It was a long and exciting day. It would have been nice to have some views from the summits of the mountains, but it was still a good climb.
The cruise ship didn't get to Juneau until noon so we cheated by taking the tram part way up. Pretty good weather and lots of people on the trail. Spectacular views. Headed over to Mt Roberts next.
Went over on the way to Mount Roberts
Fun hike with my sister back when I was a kid. Have done this many times since.
we found a nice one axe worthy snow couloir that almost reached the peak itself after dropping down into the bowl. Fun afternoon with Everett mountain rescue guys.
Beautiful peak. Excellent views of Juneau from the trail.
Did both peaks. 4 hours trailhead to trailhead, no tram involved =)
Great views of Silverbow Basin and Mt Juneau.
A great way to spend the morning in Juneau. Maybe next time I'll see some blue skies!!