Sunday, October 5, 2008

Beyond Magnificent

Snowslog up Mt. Magnificent and Beyond
High point: ~4800 ft
Sunday, Oct 5th, 2008

Mt. Magnificent, Mt. Significant and Peak 5331 are part of the ridges and peaks immediately north of Eagle River and have beckoned me every time I drive north from Anchorage. Early October I persuaded Amy to come with me to try to climb all three peaks in a day. I had estimated it would take us 8-10 hours for all three peaks from the Mile High Saddle trailhead. What I didn't expect was 2 feet snow above 4500 feet and a lot more coming down while we were out. After climbing Mt. Magnificent, we made it to the ridge junction between Peak 5331 and Mt. Significant where we decided to turn around so that we would make it back to the car before dark. These two summits will have to beckon me for another year.

Amy at the Mile High Saddle (which has an altitude of about 2300 feet). Not much snow at this point.

The bull moose were hanging out in the high country today. This one was a 12x12. We saw two other large bull moose heading over a 4000 foot high pass East of Mt. Magnificent, obviously heading for the cover at lower altitude in the Eagle River valley.
Traversing up from Mile High Saddle, we started getting into more and more snow. The valley below us (at about 2500 feet) didn't have much snow on the way up. On the way down, everything was covered in an additional 4-6 inches of new snow.
The Mt. Magnificent ridge looking back towards Eagle River.
Here is Amy traversing towards the summit of Mt. Magnificent. What is an easy hike and scramble in the summer is made trecherous by snow covered and icy rocks. Being unable to discern the quality of the surface underneath the snow made us traverse with ice-axes even though the terrain was only about 40 degrees. Even then we had some scary episodes where the ice ax would loose purchase on slick-rock.

Amy coming up the ridge leading to the intersection with the ridge from Peak 5331.
Turnaraound point at ~4800 feet. Peak 5331 can be seen in the background. With 1-2 feet of snow, out progress had slowed to a crawl. We would have used another 1 1/2 hour from here to the summit of Significant. With deteriorating weather, we decided to turn around and head back. What took 5 1/2 hours up took almost 4 hours back down. We made it to the car just as daylight was disappearing.
Trond looking down the ridge we came up. Mt. Magnificent can be seen far below of the ridge to the right.

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