South Ridge From Williwaw Lakes
Having tried the Northwest Ridge over the 4th of July and backing out due to poor visibility and wet rock, we decided to make another go at Williwaw via the South Ridge. We set out around 9 AM to a beautiful day, some minor fog rolling in but quickly burning off as we made our way into the cirque from our camp site near Walrus Lake. We quickly arrived in the cirque and dodged to the right up a creek to get to the saddle. The immediate thought when you look up is that the saddle to the right is where you should be heading, but we were unable to find a route visually that didn't involve ropes in our mind. Looking to the left from a snow field below the saddle, you can see a sort of natural ascension that heads left and up. We moved up this and through some route finding and Class 3 scrambling eventually made our way to the col between Williwaw and the ridge that would lead you to another saddle and then The Ramp. Once above this Class 3 scramble, it's all easy peasy. No ropes necessary, and for finding the route up the South Ridge (at least the one we took) you will at some point find Cairns that give a reasonably followable route up. On the way down I added some fun and stepped into what I would consider Class 4 by going down a section that I didn't need to, so if you are looking for excitement, it can still be had on this approach.
On route to the summit we found plenty of bear scat with many berries in it, some within 200 vertical feet of the summit. Always a nice reminder to keep your bear spray accessible. We logged in at the register, pleasantly surprised to find names and dates back into the early 90s (and probably earlier). We left two starburst for whoever would be the next to hit the top, given the conditions that likely happened within an hour. View of Denali and Sultana from the top was amazing, and the views back into the Chugach showed all the awesome peaks, I think including Mount Marcus Baker.
Our route includes the approach from Glen Alps up O'Malley Gulch and then down past Black Lake. We saw around the order of 100 Dall Sheep while out for two days, it is not uncommon to run into them pretty much everywhere. While Williwaw is definitely doable as a day trip if you start early enough, I would err on the side of two days no matter the route, so you can pick your favorite moment. Three days would even be ideal as the natural beauty of the area leaves much to be soaked in.
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