A little work related blog post for ya! Last week I had the privilege of guiding an amazing overnight trip up to the Unlikely Valley. This valley is across the bay from my summer hometown of Seward, AK and is an alpine playground. The one downside is that you do need to hop on a helicopter to get there! While guiding up there, we had perfect weather, got to see a bear within five minutes of landing the helicopter and climbed a previously unclimbed sub-peak at the top of the valley. Quite a successful overnight trip in my opinion. My two clients, an adventurous father and son duo from Florida, even liked my cooking! What more can a guide want?
|The Unlikely Valley|
However, while up the in Unlikely Valley, I couldn't help but think of all the opportunities to explore the almost endless number of glaciers and unclimbed peaks. So Jane and I headed up for two nights to explore the area and scout out opportunities for future trips. Both of us will be missing the end of the year guide trip so the owners were gracious enough to pay for our heli flight to get up to the valley. Though we'll both miss hanging out with everyone on the guide trip, it was great to still be able to get out and explore.
|Our mountain taxi|
We camped out at the toe of 'Saddle' glacier. This yet unnamed glacier is where our guided overnight trips gain their first experience traveling across the blue expanse of an alpine glacier. Jane and I were lucky to find a deep blue and only slightly wet moulin (deep hole in the ice formed by a meltwater waterfall) to ice climb in.
Being only minutes from our campsite, this climb was a perfect warmup for the day ahead. After tiring out our arms on the hard blue ice, we started up the glacier to give our legs a workout too. Our goal was to reach the very top of this glacier, which ended in a cirque of unclimbed peaks offering unobstructed views of the Gulf of Alaska.
|Looking south, the Gulf of AK covered in a marine fog layer|
Soon we reached the firn line (where the glacier ice becomes buried by the last winter's snows) and had to rope up. Several hours later, and past some of the deepest, widest, and most forbidding crevasses I've ever seen, we reached the top of the glacial cirque. The cirque is surrounded by small rock peaks jutting out of the snow and into the sky. Looking up at the various peaks, it was almost impossible to decipher which was the highest. After choosing one and climbing it, we realized we had picked the second highest! The actual summit (maybe 15 feet higher) was more challenging, with exposed fifth class terrain, but was well worth the extra work.
|View from the summit|
|Jane scrambling along the summit ridge|
From the summit, Jane and I were able to look over the Resurrection Bay, Day Harbor, and both the Harding and Sargent Icefields. Lots of photo taking ensued and then it was the long walk back through the crevasses to camp.
After climbing and descending almost 3,000 feet of glaciated terrain plus ice climbing in a moulin, Jane and I were quite tired. A delicious dinner of cous-cous and veggies combined with a dessert of s'mores replenished some of the spent calories. A beautiful sunset in the alpine and then it was off to bed. We flew back home the next morning, but I was already looking forward to returning to the Unlikely Valley again, regardless if it is personally or with clients!
|Alpenglow on Unlikely Peak|