Mount Ripinski is a beautiful peak in the Takshanuk Mountains northwest of Haines, which divide the Chilkat and Chilkoot River drainages. While Mount Ripinski in itself it a beautiful peak, it’s the views of the surrounding mountains from Ripinski which are the star of the show. If you can hit it on a clear day, the views from Mount Ripinski are nothing short of stunning. To the southwest are the spectacular Cathedral Spires, to the southeast is the impressive Mount Sinclair, and all views to the north produce incredible views of a kaleidoscope of rugged un-named peaks rising straight out of the ocean.
We were lucky enough to climb Ripinski on a clear day and to extend the trip northwest to the summit of Shakuseyi Peak (Peak 3920)
. If you can too, then it may be one of your most spectacular days ever. Despite the elevation of the mountains, out of all the alpine mountains I’ve climbed in the world, the views from the ridge between Ripinski and Shakuseyi Peak are probably the best I’ve seen from any non-technical peak.
The peak offers a choice of routes, including a 10 mile traverse over Ripinski and Shakuseyi Peak. While Mount Ripinski is usually an easy climb, don’t underestimate the peak. Remember that you start climbing right from near sea level and Southeast Alaska is notorious for bad weather.
Some maps show Mount Ripinski at 3573 feet elevation, but this is for the lower South Summit.
Kessler on the summit of Mount Ripinski.
Getting to Haines, Alaska
The first destination is Haines Alaska, which can be reached by road, plane or by ferry. If coming from places like the lower 48 states, the most economical way to get to Haines would be to fly to Juneau and take the ferry from there. No buses serve Haines, but you can take a bus to Skagway and then take the ferry from there.
Getting to Haines via Road, Plane or Ferry is a very scenic trip in itself, at least when the weather is good.
Kessler and Shaylee in Haines Alaska.
Getting to Haines
Haines is accessible by road from the Alcan Highway from Haines Junction, Yukon Territory. The highway is designated 3 on the Yukon side and SH7 on the Alaska side. The highway is 152 miles long (about 3.5 hours) and is a very scenic drive.
Wings of Alaska
has flight to Haines from both Skagway and Juneau.
The Alaska Marine Highway System
has ferries from both Juneau (3.5 hours) and Skagway (one hour) and is a relatively economical way to travel. The ferry terminal is north of town and a shuttle taxi service meets incoming ferries.
Part of the Alaska Marine Highway between Juneau and Haines Alaska.
The Haines-Skagway Fast Ferry
has service to Haines from Skagway (35 minutes). This one drops you off right in Haines, so it’s a good service to use.
Looking out over the Chilkoot Inlet from the slopes of Mount Ripinski. The Haines-Skagway Fast Ferry can been seen below.
Getting to the TrailheadsSkyline Trailhead
This is probably the most popular trail used to climb Mount Ripinski. From Main Street in Haines, follow Second Avenue uphill to the north. After 0.3 miles, continue straight on Youngs Road. Follow Youngs Road to its end (the last part is on a fairly rough dirt road). The trailhead is about 1.7 miles from Main Street in Haines and can be walked to rather easily if you don’t have a car. Taking a taxi is another alternative.
The trail near the Skyline Trailhead.
This trailhead offers the shortest route to Mount Ripinski. Just west of Haines and from the Haines Highway (SH 7), Piedad Road heads north. The Piedad Trailhead is at the end of Piedad Road and is close enough to town that you could walk there without a car.
Sevenmile Saddle Trailhead
From Haines, drive the Haines Highway (or bike or take a taxi) 6.8 miles northwest to the trailhead on the right (north) side of the road. Park at one of the pullouts near the trailhead.
Cathedral Spires as seen from not far above the Sevenmile Trailhead.
Routes OverviewSkyline Trail
This is probably the easiest route up Mount Ripinski. It’s a good trail that first climbs through a nice hemlock before eventually breaking timberline where the views really open up. The route is 7.6 miles round trip with about 3600 feet elevation gain.
See the route page for details.
The Skyline Trail near the summit of Mount Ripinski.
This is the shortest route up Mount Ripinski. It meets the route from the Skyline Trail about half way up. It is said to be in steeper and rougher condition than the Skyline Trail.
Mount Ripinski to Shakuseyi Peak Traverse
If you are up to it and if the weather is good, this is the route to take. It ascends Mount Ripinski first (via one of the above routes) and then follows the ridge west to Jones Gap. From Jones Gap, the trail continues along the ridge before climbing to the summit of Shakuseyi Peak. The route then drops to Sevenmile Saddle and down to the Sevenmile Saddle Trailhead. This route is 10 miles long and is very spectacular.
See the route page for details.
Be aware that some of the maps and guidebooks to the area are out of date concerning trailhead and trail conditions. Two useful publications are the Haines State Forest Mount Ripinski Trail System
and the pamphlet Haines is for Hikers
. Both are available (for free) in Haines, but you might have to search around a bit.
The King of the Mountain as seen from the Mount Ripinksi to Shakuseyi Peak Traverse.
No motorized vehicles are allowed on the trails.
There are three places to camp around Haines.
Portage Cove is on Beach Road (east side of Chilkat Peninsula 0.5 miles southeast of Fort Seward (which is the southeastern part of Haines).
Chilkat State Park
is seven miles south of Haines along Mud Bay Road (west side of Chilkat Peninsula).
Bear Creek Cabins and Hostel
also allows camping and is the least expensive place to stay without a tent as well. It’s a nice place and is where we stayed.
Haines also has several hotels and lodges.
Backcountry camping is permitted. The area around Jones Gap between Mount Ripinski and Peak 3920 makes a scenic campsite, though in late summer water might be scarce.
The area around Jones Gap is rather gentle and would make a good campsite.
When to Climb
Mid-June through mid-September is the normal hiking season. With easy access, winter ascents would be reasonable as well, though there might be some avalanche danger on the highest slopes.
June can be a really nice time to climb since it’s the sunniest summer month, though there tends to be more snow around. July is excellent too while August and September are wetter and cloudier. Fall and winter tend to be quite wet.
Winters are much milder here than in interior Alaska.
The summit of Mount Ripinski on a bright and sunny day in late June.
Mountain ConditionsWeather Forecast for Takshanuk Mountains
Below is the National Weather Service Climate Summary of Haines. The data is from 1957-2010. This is the closest long term weather stations, but be aware that higher elevations will be wetter and colder. Haines is close sea level, so expect the temperatures on these mountains to be 10-15 degrees colder than in Haines.
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