- Day 1: Into the Chugach – Crossing the Kinglet Traverse
- Day 2: Grizz, Snow, Choss, and Goats, OH My!!!
Alaska is a hard place. It’s a different kind of hard than New York City, but it can toughen you up and man out of you just the same. There is no trail to 95% of the peaks here. You get a nice approach trail to the base of the peak, then the rest is up to you! Grind on, through the chossfest, up the very steep scree, onto some nice rotten exposed scrambling, and finally to the top where you get slapped in the face by breathtaking views. This was pretty much the story of our trek, except much more choss, rain, and silly jokes about made up characters like Count Chossula and BooBoo Johnson (to keep us going) than I’d like to admit!
Brendan and I pulled our packs from the truck and strapped them on, ready to head deep into the Chugach State Park. We put feet on trial headed up Crows Pass where we would start our journey. The country here was beautiful! The trail meandered through a valley surrounded by lush, green, steep mountains that jetted almost straight up from the valley floor shrouded in clouds. I grinned from ear to ear, so happy to be on the trail. As we trekked further up the trail Brendan would point in the distance, calling out peak names and telling me stories of past treks.
We finally reached crows pass where there was a nice cabin, settled in the middle of the long meadow. What a nice place to spend the weekend and chill, but we had other plans in mind. The sky was still grey from the passing fog which would fade in and out, covering the mountains, and then opening up momentarily to give us incredible views. Just past Crow Pass we got a great view of Ravens Glacier to the east. Its ice cold blue core melted down creating incredible huge waterfalls at the headwaters of Raven Creek that eventually fed Eagle River.
We trekked on down the trail until just before Clear Creek canyon, where Brendan stepped off the trail saying “whelp here is our exit!” We skirted the grassy hillside avoiding cliff outs before finally dumping into Clear Creek canyon. Let the boulder creek hopping begin! We made our way up the valley, back and forth across the creek until finally reaching the base of Steamroller pass. It was time to go to work and we slogged our way up the steep chossfest. Step after step through loose rock and finally a long patch of snow, we finally gained the top of the pass. As soon as we hit the saddle, fog rolled in, giving us whiteout conditions and it began to rain . . . time to dawn the rain jackets, frog-togs, and pack covers!
From here we ditched our packs and headed up the knife-edge ridge through the white-out conditions towards Camp Robbers Peak standing at 5855 ft. picking our way through the exposed class 3/4 ridge finally found the final approach to Robbers. We made our way up the rotten final push false summit after false summit. Each handhold or foothold had to be inspected, and even it was never to be fully trusted as it could easily give way and send you hurdling down a never-ending gully. Gotta love the Chugach choss!
After summiting we headed back to the pass that was still socked in, no visibility. We found the path of least resistance and scree surfed our way into the Arch Angel lakes valley. As soon as we dropped into the valley, all the rain, clouds, and cold wind died off and let way to beautiful bluebird skies. We trekked over to one of the lakes and took ourselves a nice lunch of Maruchan Chicken soup and PBJs. It was a nice change of pace from the morning and we hoped the rest of the day followed suite.
We packed back up and trekked on towards Arch Angel Pass it see a white mountain goat standing just before the pass checking us out, until he spotted us, and turned slowly walking out of sight. We pressed on, eyeballing the Kings traverse as we went, until finally reaching the pass to be blasted by incredible clear views of the Chugach State Park. What a gorgeous moment! Looking north we saw the Organ Mountain’s approach chute was totally caked in snow and we didn’t have the right gear to ascend, so we decided to take the Kinglet Traverse instead and were afforded some great views.
We pressed on and up the good grind to East Kinglet peak (5190). We finally reached the summit and once again were taken back by some incredible views. We could see Paradise Pass, Arch Angel valley, Camp Robbers peak where we came, and north into Ship Creek valley guarded by Organ Mountain and Synthesizer peak. We felt like we could see all of the heart of the Chugach. We kept trekking on the ridgeline touching off on Middle Kinglet and soon West Kinglet (5175). The views from the ridgeline were something of a dream.
Finally we decided to drop into Ship Creek and find a nice camp for the night. We continued to skirt the ridge until we found a weak spot in the ridge, leading to the valley below. Using a 7mm hand line we lowered ourselves across the ball bearing entrance until sure footing was found. One more hand line drop got us to a scree route that went. We scree surfed our way down into a no name lake where we pitched out tent, filtered water, ate dinner, and finally zipped down our tent before crashing like tranquilized beasts.
What an incredible day! Just think we still had another full day before leaving this paradise!
- Kinglet traverse GPX: https://hikearizona.com/map.php?GPS=37123
- Weather: Hi in mid 60s, Low in upper 40s, Foggy, Rainy, Sockedin
- Water: 4 Liters (including dinner)
- Food: 1 Bagel, 2 Protien bars, 2 Cliff Protien Bars, 2 granola bar, 1/2 bag of gummyworms, Apple, 1 Mountain House: Chicken and Mashed Potatoes, 1/2 bag of Salt and Vinegar Chips, 1/2 bag of trailmix, 1 PB&J sandwich, Maruchan Chicken Ramen, Snickers.
- Time: 10 hours
- Distance: 12 miles
- Accumulated Gain: ~6100 accumulated
- 58 liter exos osprey backpack
- Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 tent
- Big Agnes QCORE SLX sleeping pad
- Cosmic Down Kelty Sleeping Bag (rated to 20 deg F)
- Jet Boil – Sol
- Black Diamond trekking poles
- SPOT Gen3 Tracker
- Sawyer Squeeze – Water Filter
- Black Diamond Helmet
- 60 ft 7mm pull cord
- Black Diamond Ice Axe
- Smartwool – long sleeve 195 shirt
- Cotton hankerchief
- Arc’teryx hoody
- Patagonia Pants
- Solomon Waterproof Hiking Boots
- Darn Tough wool medium weight socks
- Threadless hoody
- Patagonia Rain jacket
- “FrogTog” Rain Pants