The expanse of the Kigluaik MountainsThe Kigluaik Mountains
are a 42 mile long chain of peaks in the far west of Alaska. Their tundra-covered peaks showcase jagged ridges and steep slopes. Throughout most of the year, the peaks are covered in snow. In the summer, the snow melts and carpets of flowers spring up from the inhospitable rock. In the deepest valleys, swampy floodplains contain small lakes and fertile meadows. This area, like much of Alaska, is pristine in nature as in isolation. The mountains cannot be accessed from national road systems, so a flight into Nome is necessary.
Although the range is not high compared to others in Alaska, climbing to around 4000 ft, each peak is separated from others by deep, wide valleys. Therefore, these mountains are not to be missed - Mount Osborn (4714 ft) has about as much prominence as it is tall, and some of the best scrambling in Alaska is found here.
Because of its relative isolation, it is little known. People would much rather travel to Anchorage or Fairbanks and explore the more popular Alaska Range or the Wrangell-St. Elias Mountains. However, if you are an adventurous individual and want to go out of your way for extra solitude, a visit to the Kigluaik Mountains would be worth it. The area is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
Geology has its
imprint on the range. The mountains are composed of 90 million year old gneiss overlaying sections of 120 million year old schist. As the gneiss broke the above rock during uplift, the resulting deformation created the rough ridges that are visible today.
Mount Osborn (4714 ft)Since the mountains are rarely climbed, few of the peaks are named. Of the named peaks, Mount Osborn is the highest, accessed by a challenging class 4 route with a long approach. The few others are even farther out, lower, and less spectacular. For most people, Osborn is their only objective, but a hardcore trekker can try to take on some of the others. Many sub-peaks closer to trailheads may be climbed for shorter excursions.
|4714 feet||290 miles||Class 4|
|Grand Singatook||3796 feet||21 miles||Unknown|
|Tigahara Mountain||3160+ feet||0.82 miles||Unknown|
TravelTo access the
range, fly into Nome via Alaska Airlines. One can stay in Nome at several hotels. For transport, rent a car at the Aurora Inn in the middle of town. Trailheads are along the Nome-Taylor Highway in the east of the range, and on the Nome-Teller Highway to the west of the mountains.