Saturday, August 11, 2012

Indian Pass Peaks - 10 Aug 2012

Indian Pass Peaks (Bidarka, 3835 ft; The Wing, 4985 ft, Shaman's Dome, 4010 ft)
August 11th, 2012, with Ian and Jen.
19 miles (30 kms), 7900 total vertical (2415 m), 10.5 hrs round trip.

I had (as usual) big plans for the day and hoped to summit 5 peaks in the Indian Pass area on this gorgeous Saturday.  But distances are deceiving and we "only" managed to summit three peaks.  This area offers some great tundra travel.  We didn't see anybody all day.  It is amazing to have this entire area to ourselves.

We started from the Indian Valley trailhead and bush-whacked up the trail to Indian Pass.  The trail is not much travelled and thus very overgrown this time of the year.  From the Indian Pass we headed up the easy ridge to the Bidarka Peak (3835 ft) and then descended to a little tarn North of Bidarka were we had an early lunch.  After lunch we crossed the ridge between the Beak (4730 ft) and the Wing (4985 ft) and traversed towards the col between the Wing and Bird's Eye Peak (4970 ft).  But the West ridge of Bird's Eye Peak seemed too technical for running shoes and shorts, so we cancelled our plan for Bird's Eye and headed back up to the summit of the Wing.  After the Wing we had hoped to traverse directly North to the Tail Feather Peak (4960 ft), but this ridge was also much too technical so we decided to head back West and bag Shaman's Dome (4010 ft) before returning via the col between Bidarka and Bird Ridge Overlook ("Bidarka" Pass).  After an hour of serious bushwhacking we were back on the Indian Valley trail and another hour of bush-whacking down the Indian Valley trail put us back where we started 10.5 hours earlier.

Water stop at the Indian Pass before heading up Bidarka.

Jen and Ian on Bidarka with Turnagain Arm in the background.

Bird's Eye Peak.

The Wing

The Beak (left) and Bird Ridge Overlook from high on the Wing

Summit ridge of the Wing.

Jen and Ian on the Wing

Trond on the Wing with Tail Feather Peak in the background.

Decadent.  Jen and Ian enjoying a brewski on the Wing with Bird's Eye Peak in the background.

Summit of Shaman's Dome.  In the background are Ptarmigan (left), the Wedge, and the Ramp)

The Sail seen from Shaman's Dome.

Tail Feather (left) and the Wing (right).  We descended the left-hand-side ridge from the Wing.  An interesting ridge; 30-40 degrees ridge with lots of loose gravel on friable Chugach crud.

The Beak (left) and Bird Ridge Overlook seen from Shaman's Dome.  Our return was via the pass ("Bidarka" Pass) between Bird Ridge Overlook and Bidarka seen as the low point on the right hand side of the photo.

On "Bidarka" Pass.

Eastward panorama from the Wing.  Left to right are Bird's Eye Peak (4970 ft), Esbay Peak (4050 ft), Bird Peak (5505 ft), Nest Peak (5030 ft), and Penguin Ridge.

Northward panorama from "Bidarka" Pass.  Left to right are Shaman's Dome, the Wing, and the Beak.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Nagoon Mountain (4403 ft)

Nagoon Mountain (4403 ft) in the Berries Group, Chugach Mnts
Sunday, August 5th, 2012
19 miles, 5690 ft total vertical, 7 hours roundtrip

Sunday, August 5th, was another overcast weekend day (like most other weekend days this summer) with the cloud ceiling hovering around 3500 - 4000 ft.  The weather looked a little better to the East so I decided to head out to the Berries.  It had been a few years since I had been up the Berry Pass, so I thought I could at least go that far.  And if the weather cooperated, I would try Nagoon Mountain, the northernmost mountain in the Berries.  Most of the peaks in the Berries have berry names. Nagoon is the Tlingit name for arctic raspberry (

The route follows the Winner Creek trail from Girdwood up to the Berry Pass.  This is the same route used by 20-mile River packrafters.  From the pass, I headed up in a southeasterly direction until I gained the northeast ridge.  I stayed with the northeast ridge all the way to the summit.  This was a great ridge with the right mix of scrambling, exposure and route-finding, and some close-up wildlife encounter.

Nagoon Mnt left and Highbush Mnt (4669 ft) right seen from the Upper Winner Creek

View from Berry Pass looking North.  Kelly's Knob (2858 ft) in the right foreground and Longspur Peak (5401 ft) in the center.

From the summit ridge looking Northeast.  20-Mile river in the foreground, 20-mile glacier in the background.

Half-way up the summit ridge I ran into a flock of Mountain Goats.

Sitting quietly, I had a whole flock pass me at no more than 12 feet.  We had a staring contest for about 5 minutes. 

Only once they had continued on their way dared I get up and continue on my merry way.  

Summit pyramid of Nagoon Mnt.

Self-portrait from the Nagoon summit with Kinnikinnick Mnt (4468 ft) in the background.

View from the summit overlooking the 20-mile glacier, Kinnikinnick Mnt and some of the central Chugach mountains.

South view from the summit with (left-to-right) Blueberry Hill (4531 ft), Lowbush Mnt (4229 ft), Highbush Mnt (4669 ft), Lingon Mnt (4098 ft), and Berg Peak (3917 ft).

Southern panorama from Nagoon Mnt summit with (left-to-right): 20-Mile Glacier, Kinnikkinnick Mnt (4468 ft), Blueberry Hill (4531 ft), Lowbush Mnt (4229 ft), Highbush Mnt (4669 ft), Lingon Mnt (4098 ft), Berg Peak (3917 ft) and True Summit (4423 ft).  Right of True Summit is Mnt Alyeska (not a true summit).