Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Alyeska Reconnaissance Mission

The sun was not shining inside my office, and the weather out the window looked so nice I couldn't stay in that office any longer, so we decided to get outside for some hiking in the afternoon.  It had been a few years since the UAA Nordic Team hiked Max's Mountain in Girdwood; it seemed like a fun destination for an afternoon hike - a little reconnaissance mission. 

Climbing up out of the valley through the trees.

Girdwood Valley

Turnagain Arm.

Girdwood.  From Max's Mountain.

Alyeska Ski Resort.

Alyeska Peak - our destination.

Looking back at what we've climbed so far - Max's Mountain.

Climbing the southwest ridge of Alyeska Mountain.

Looking back into Winner Creek Valley.  There's still a lot of snow back there!

Descending the cornice overhanging Glacier Bowl.

Cornice over Glacier Bowl.

We didn't count on this much snow....  And this ended up causing us a real problem!  Usually, we would descend back down to the top of the Alyeska tramway on a dirt and rock trail down the shoulder of the mountain, but now there were several steep cornices blocking our way, and we had only brought one ice axe, one climbing harness and some webbing.  To try to traverse those cornices seemed too risky, so we ended up scrambling all over Mt. Alyeska to find a way around it, and in the end, we ended up descending the cliff overhanging Glacier Bowl, full of loose rock and scree.  We spent the next 2.5 hours traveling about 300 meters, scratching our way down a loose, steep slope.  It was NOT relaxing, and my camera stayed in my backpack while we focused on making smart choices...

....but in the end, with ice axe and clinbing harness, we did make it down to Alyeska Glacier at last.

It was a relief to be back on the glacier.  Our route was down the slope in the rear center of the photos.

The upper tram station.  We made it down in time for the last ride down.

Alyeska Prince Hotel; 9:30pm.

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