Saturday, July 9, 2011

Bird & Nest Peak Combo

Bird Peak (5505 ft) and Nest Peak (5030 ft)
July 9th, 2011
Roundtrip 15 miles, 8500 ft vertical, 10 hours

I have been wanting to climb Bird Peak for a long time.  It is a beautiful pyramid that can be glimpsed as one drives Eastbound along the Turnagain Arm.  Very few people visit Bird Peak because of its perception as a very tough peak.  In "50 Hikes in Alaska's Chugach State Park", the Bird Peak hike is described as the most challenging, listing the roundtrip time to 12-16 hours.  However, a fit hiker can usually cut such time estimates in half.

July 9th turned out to be a perfect day for Bird Peak.  The cloud ceiling was at 5500 ft which precluded climbing anything higher.  And the overcast and cool conditions made hiking through tall grass much more bearable.  The Bird Peak hike actually turned out to be quite nice.  It did not involve any real bush-whacking, only a couple of miles of high-grass bashing.  And although the upper part of Bird Peak is steep and scrambly, it is not technical.  The worst part of the hike was actually to reconnect with the game trail that would take me back though the tall grass to the trail head.

Nest Peak is Bird Peak's neighbor to the West.  It is a simple walk-up with some beautiful tundra hiking along the top ridge.  With a bit of energy left, I decided to detour on my return from climbing Bird Peak to also bag Nest Peak.  The detour added about 2500 vertical feet and 2 1/2 hours to the total roundtrip.  The Nest Peak detour was well worth it.  The Bird-Nest route is shown in the Topo map below.

Bird Peak (in the background) seen from the Nest Peak southern ridge at about 2600 ft.  Point 4800 is in the front right side of the picture. The route to Bird Peak goes up and over point 4800.

Closer view of the Bird Peak Southwast face.  The route goes up the right hand side screen slope and then follows the ridge to the summit.

Looking back down at point 4800 from the Bird Peak summit.

Bird Peak summit cairn.

Point 4800.  Turnagain Arm in the background.

Grassy slopes at 2600 ft on the Nest Peak southern ridge.  Bird ridge and Turnagain Arm in the distance.

East to South panorama of Bird Peak (left hand side), Pengiun valley, Penguin ridge, and Penguin Peak (right hand side). 

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