Driving out of anchorage at 6 pm in the dark was probably the most scared I have been in a long time. Only 2 people new what I was doing and one was 3,000 miles away so if I fucked up, then I really would have fucked up! With butterflies going I drove to the gold mint trail head on Hatcher pass. Pull into the parking lot and not one car in sight. I picked my spot, parked, looked at the temp, 16 degrees, turned the car off, and crawl into my bed. I checked my phone to see if I had service, nope. I made some ramen and read a chapter out of the "bible"(freedom of the hills) and tried to shut the system down for some rest. Super excited about tomorrow, the 3 days ahead, and how I actually committed to doing this trip made it hard to sleep. The 6 am alarm came a lot sooner then I thought, but I got up and made some coffee. Its always so surprising how long it takes to get ready in the cold, just making a normal breakfast that takes 15 minutes inside a warm house feels like it takes an hour in the cold. The car wouldn't start because it was too cold so I bundled up and starting packing my bag. With 40 pounds off gear (mostly beer) on my back I took off around 7:30. Theres no snow in the valley so the one trail was packed down well until the 4 mile marker. It gets a little smaller after 4 miles and finally dies out around 5 1/2 miles. I could see the headwall that you have to climb the cabin and was getting very excited! All the sudden WHOMP, walk another 100 yards and WHOMP! So close but so far, do I really have to turn around when I am only 2 miles away from the hut? With the whomping, knowledge of some depth hoar and persistent slab problems, I decided it wouldn't be the smartest idea to travel up a 35 degree slope by myself. Mint hut I will try and find you another time but for now, back to the car for some beer, and maybe warm up a little!
Sleeping in insulated bib overalls, puffy jacket, and zero degree bag in a car is not bad at all, your pretty warm. However after hiking 13 miles with a 40 pounds on your back your body can be a little sore. I slept in till about 7 and then took another long hour to get ready. I knew that the archangel trail was very popular and packed down from nordic skiers. So to save my knees and ankles I threw my skis on my back and took off on shoes. It was prefect I motored up the first 5 miles in about 2 hours. At the end of Archangel road I put the cold wet ski boots on and got moving to try and warm my feet up. After breaking trail for another hour I finally got a glimpse of the the Lane hut! This little shack stands at the bass of some massive peaks, all the peaks look like there falling apart, rocks the size of buses where scattered all about. This is a nice hut if people would take care of it better, I was not to impressed when I opened the door. Six people could spend the night here but the place was trashed, trash all over the floor and shit everywhere. Being lazy and tired from the day before I couldn't summon the energy to go up to the glacier. Instead I enjoyed going back down the packed trail to the trailhead, finally got some wind in my face!
I didn't now this but if you park at fishhook trail head and look straight up at the first peak its name is Fish and then second one to the left is marmot. After going to the lane hut I took a quick hour nap in the car. I knew if I slept more or didn't do anything I would not be able to sleep that night. I decided with only about an hour left till it dark I would skin up fish and see how close I could get to Marmots summit. With an hour alarm set on my phone I took off on a pretty fast pass, I made it up fish and across the ridge, I wanted to summit marmot but my one hour timer sounded. It was getting dark but I wanted to played around with my cameras self timer and see if I could get some cool shots, it didn't work. I skied back to the trailhead on some surprisingly awesome snow, 35 degree boot top, not bad for an evening skin.
Hatch Peak, Bald mountainn Ridge East Peak, Government Peak
Night three in the 4runner was like a routine, boil water, melt snow to kill time, read book, eat, and go to bed. It had been warming up over the last few days, the car started on the first try which was nice to see. I drove to the fishhook trailhead and put my shoes on to start the day off walking. With skis on my back I left the trail head around 830. I walked the first mile on paved road to the hatcher pass winter road closure, the road had been well packed out making it easy to walk up to summit lakes (hatcher pass). From the the pass up to Hatch peak its straight forward. I think what they call april bowl is not in but there is a lot of good snow around the summit lake area. If you come to hatcher this is probably the best place to go. After hatch peak the battle began, some technical ridge climbing, some boot packing, and some vertical skinning was involved to get to Bald Mtn Ridge East Peak. To stay true on the ridge and make the summit you would have some exposed 5th class climbing with maybe a technical pitch, I went around onto the north face skirting around the rocky ridge. There were a few interesting wind slabs in isolated spots but nothing to scary. It was only 12:15 when I summited so I decided to keep moving and head towards Government peak. Not as technical of a ridge but still challenging. It was to steep to skin up and the wind slabs made it impossible to know where the edge of the ridge line was. If you don't know where edge of the ridge is then you can get in in a lot of trouble real fast! After battling for 45 mins up the ridge I gave up. 100 yards from the top, 2 in the afternoon, winter solicits, and no light. I pulled the plug, cold, tired, lonely, not having it I put my skis on, traversed across some interesting terrain and found myself pushing back across a drainage towards the road. At last I fund myself kicking steps up the snow bank to the main road. Exhausted I unlocked the car and had a beer around 3 pm.
16,000 VERT, 40 MILES, 4 PEAKS, 2 HUTS, 3 DAYS SLEEP IN A CAR, COLD, WET, TIRED, HUNGRY, BUT ALIVE AND WELL. MERRY CHRISTMAS BUCKY!!!!!!!!