Thursday, March 12, 2009

Arctic Blasts

The day following the best snowshoe trip of my life, well only my second ever really, I went back out for a solo hike. After flipping through hiking guides at Truant's place, I decided to go for Mt Baldy. It's a bit tricky picking out a hike in an area I don't live in since I'm unsure of avalanche hazard on all of these steep slopes. I'd seen reports of people hiking Baldy in the winter, so decided that sounded like a fine trip.

Put on the waterproof socks, trailrunners, and hydration pack before stepping out the door and driving north along the Knik Arm to the town of Eagle River. The hiking was really mellow at first, staying very flat beneath some trees as it slowly switched back up the side of the mountain. Treeline is so low in these parts of Alaska that within a mile I was above all trees. Here the trail disappeared so I just found a route to the top and took it. There was some steep steep climbing, made even trickier with deep snow. The closer I got to the top, the more vicious the wind became. The slope was really scoured by the wind, so soon enough I was walking on grass!
Took off the snowshoes and scrambled to the top on icy icy hardpack. Up top the wind was nearly unbearable, but I forced myself to bear it since I had nearly given up on the climb 15 minutes ago. The more time I spend in Alaska, the more I come to love the mountains. The Chugach Range is incredible, with so many unique peaks. There was a really appealing ridgeline less than 2 miles away that I could have gotten to from Baldy, but not today.
Maybe on my next visit, and a hike with less wind. I started to traverse the ridge to the west to get to another peak. Knife-edges are usually really fun hiking, but I had to turn my back on this one due to the sketchy sketchy icy surface coupled with really powerful gusts of wind.

Gotta say that was a good, quick, trip.

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