Saturday, September 6, 2008

Helihiking in the Talkeetnas

Helihiking in the Talkeetna Mountains North of Hatcher Pass
September 6th, 2008, with Kimball Forrest
Highpoint: Peak 5409

I am not one to turn down an opportunity to flightsee Alaska, so when Kimball called to see if I wanted to fly up North to go hiking I quickly cancelled all other plans for the day. Our orignial plan was to fly up to the headwaters of the Skwentna river where we had seen some beautiful terrain a week ago. But cloudy weather to the West made us change the flight plan to a more northerly route where the weather appeared to be much better. 45 minutes of flying found us searching for a flat spot to land on the tundra. From there we went hiking and scrambling for 3 hours on ridges overlooking the Kashwitna River drainage. We got back to the helicopter just in time as the flog was setting in. With a small opening in the fog we managed to escape and get back to Anchorage in due time.

Fall colors in the Talkeetna mountains north of Hather Pass.
Ridges and peaks perfect for hiking and scrambling.
The only local inhabitant we ran into.

Lots of large boulder fields to scamble across
One of Kimball's favorite hobbies ... rolling large boulders off of ridges.
The Talkeetna mountains. Beautiful ridge for running and hiking. Mostly the ridges are made up of scree and lichen, although some places require a little bit of scrambling. Kimball power hiking the scree slopes.

Pretty soon we found ourselves on a somewhat sketchy ridge with loose boulders and lots of potential for getting hurt.
One of the day's high points (~5200 ft elevation). We got cliffed out and I didn't want the pilot to get hurt so we decided we had seen enough. The summit on the left background is at about 5400 feet elevation.
Mt McKinley barely visible in the rising fog.
Perfect timing. When we got back to the helicopter, the fog was setting in. We quickly changed and headed out so that we wouldn't have to spend the night up there. An hour later we were drinking beer in Anchorage!

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