Forum Index > Trip Reports > Wrangell St Elias NP 7 Pass Route August 2015
 Reply to topic
Previous :: Next Topic
Author Message
Bman
Member
Member


Joined: 09 Sep 2015
Posts: 12 | TRs | Pics
Location: Coos Bay
Bman
Member
PostWed Sep 09, 2015 5:33 pm 
Hello, In an effort to revisit the glory of last month and to escape the rat race (rattus horribilus), I wanted to share my experience in Alaska's Wrangell St. Elias' 7 Pass Route. My friend Marc and I were serious about getting in deep this year and with the help of online suggestions and the talk of WSE we decided to commit to a backcountry trek on the 7 Pass Route, additionally, the $420 backcountry drop off was a better price than the $980 we were getting quoted for our second choice: Lake Clark NP. Both Marc and I have lived in Alaska and have worked backcountry with the Alaska Predator Ecosystem Experiment (APEX) on near shore birds, so we're familiar with the challenges and surprises of wild Alaska. So where to begin, but the beginning, yes? The road in, this one photo is but a sunny glimpse of the 60 mile dirt track road to McCarthy, Alaska. Some say this 60 miles will take you 4 hours, however I am very familiar with Forest Service and industrial timber land roads, we did it in 2 hours.
AK route maps
AK route maps
Our road out 10 days later was rainy and fog and couldn't have ended sooner. Once there, you have few options, but to park and pay on the private lands right by the foot bridge that begins the 3/4 mile walk to town.
The view here up river and all around will blow you away
The view here up river and all around will blow you away
Me doing a conservative pose at the ole McCarthy mining relics
Me doing a conservative pose at the ole McCarthy mining relics
My partner Marc however, took the bull by the shaft to say the least
My partner Marc however, took the bull by the shaft to say the least
We immediately retired to the one saloon in town to drink to our success of getting to McCarthy and our upcoming adventure
We immediately retired to the one saloon in town to drink to our success of getting to McCarthy and our upcoming adventure
The next morning we awoke early, did one last gear and pack check and hiked into the Wrangell Mountain Air office for our flight to Bremner Mining District where we began our trek:
Here we are flying into the Bremner mining camp, an old 1920's resource extraction adventure that is now a NP de facto ranger station, although no one was there when we flew in.
Alaska 2015 (89)
Alaska 2015 (89)
Alaska 2015 (90)
Alaska 2015 (90)
So the pilot drops us off and is quick to return to town, and then it hits you that all the planning and waiting comes down to this moment when the last link to cooperative living flys off and we are truly on our own. Great! Let's start. We begin by checking out the ole mining place:
And then we started SE up and into Standard Creek to our first camp and our first pass.
Bman up Standard Creek
Bman up Standard Creek
Camp 1
Camp 1
My fearless companion ready for his first night in the wilderness
My fearless companion ready for his first night in the wilderness
So the next morning we tackle our first pass and head on over into the Monhan Creek drainage.
Mind you it looks simple, but there is a lot of alder, skree and willow bushwacking or avoiding to be done...
our route
our route
Our route up Monhan Creek to our second pass and camp To our second night's camp at the top of Monhan Creek:
The next morning we crossed our second pass and while doing so we could hear, but not see rock fall all around us. At one point the noise became so persistent and sounded so close, that we stopped to investigate the surrounding mountains for movement and dust, it took several minutes before I could locate what started out as a rumbling few stones, but then turned into a full on rock avalanche down the slopes of a north facing glacier. the deluge was awesome to behold and for me solidified the fragile and kitty litter nature of the geology here. Needless to say I altered my opinion of which peaks were climbable after that business. But on ward to the next unnamed valley and our true creek crossing. Here we also got our first glimpse into the Bremner Glacier valley and what lied ahead for us. We opted to stay the night in this valley instead of pushing ahead, as the terrain was steep and we were only about a 4 mile bushwack from the glacier.
This was the only night we ever had enough woody material to have a small camp fire, we made the most of it with the declining sun and whiskey sipped our way to bed.
The next day was our biggest push and our longest day, I estimated we did 7 miles in over 11 hours, it just shows you how long backcountry travel can be over trailless terrain, glaciers, moraine slopes, and up steep gullys:
Bman over Bremner Glacier
Bman over Bremner Glacier
Approaching the glacier from up high
Approaching the glacier from up high
Marc coming off the moraine
Marc coming off the moraine
Route Day 4
Route Day 4
Bushwacking
Bushwacking
the moraine
the moraine
Marc contemplating the work ahead
Marc contemplating the work ahead
finally freedom in the heights
finally freedom in the heights
This last picture is the upland valley we were making our way to...by the time we got up to the lake we wanted to camp, I was exhausted and literally collapsed on the ground and didn't want to move, but of course camp needed to be made and dinner needed eating, because at this point every calorie was precious. The next morning we awoke to sun and cheer:
We went back to the glacier and spent time over looking the void....this was an amazing spot:
Alaska 2015 (196)
Alaska 2015 (196)
Me on the edge of glacier glory....
Me on the edge of glacier glory....
Marc busting it in style..
Marc busting it in style..
and the view behind us.
and the view behind us.
Along the way back we made some friends:
Marc pic 2
Marc pic 2
We stayed the night in the same camp and celebrated that night with more whiskey and the only can's of Alaska stout we dared pack in:
The next day we continued on into Iceburg Lake Valley and over our final pass:
We were able to get up high this time and make our own way down into the valley, the heights were glorious, however, we paid dearly in time negotiating steep slopes, skree and brush on the way down; it ended up taking us 4 hours to cover 3 miles.
Bman AK 2
Bman AK 2
By the time we got low enough to travel fast we realized we were on the only hiker/animal trail allowed by the glacier in the valley, needless to say we saw a lot of grizzly and boot prints:
That night we returned up high on the north valley for our best camp yet:
We spent the next day hiking and climbing, but only so much as I was running low on calories as our food was being rationed for the remainder of the trip.
DAy 7 Route
DAy 7 Route
Our route across our last glacier and to the airfield beyond By this time we were taking so many pictures, often of the same view over and over again, as the subtle changes of light renewed each moment on the landscape, that my camera battery began to fail.
But eventually we had to move on across the glacier..
To our final camp in the valley below these twin north slope glaciers:
Camp 7
Camp 7
Our final day saw us dropping our packs at the airstrip and exploring this beautiful valley some more, we wanted it all, and wished that we were here for a food pick up rather than a return trip.
Post Adventure
Post Adventure
Visitors
Visitors
This trip rocked. I would do it again in WSENP, but this time go north of McCrthey to the Wrangell St. Elias mtns as opposed to the Chugach Mtns we were in on this trip. There is so much to see out here and so little life to do it in.
Bman Glory
Bman Glory
AK route maps
AK route maps

Bryan

Now I Fly
Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
Bernardo
Member
Member


Joined: 08 Feb 2010
Posts: 2155 | TRs | Pics
Location: out and about in the world
Bernardo
Member
PostWed Sep 09, 2015 6:59 pm 
Hey, this is a great trip report. Sounds like a great adventure. So one topic that comes up around here a lot, even though it's mostly hypothetical for most of us, is grizzly bears. How did you plan to deal with a grizzly in a close encounter? How did this site help you?

Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
kenbee
Member
Member


Joined: 15 Nov 2010
Posts: 104 | TRs | Pics
Location: seattle
kenbee
Member
PostWed Sep 09, 2015 7:10 pm 
If one were to believe in omens and signs, then you just sealed my fate for next summer! My buddy and I have been thinking about getting more adventurous for our next big trip--getting in deep, as you wrote-- and naturally we started looking north. I first started getting excited about the Donjek route in Yukon's Kluane National Park (still am), then that led to Wrangell St. Elias--so for the past two weeks I've been obsessively checking it out online, and in the last couple of days really started narrowing it down to the Seven Pass route, or nearby variations. And, then, here comes your awesome trip report! How can we not go now??? Looks like you had a blast, with good weather to boot. And I look forward to a report if you do go further north to the Wrangells for your next trek! One question and a note: I tried to follow your route on the map and match the pix up (a weird hobby of mine)--was that final campsite across the valley just south of Iceberg Lake? Also, none of the pix in your report would link to a larger version...would love to bask in the eye candy more. Cheers!

Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
Ski
><((((>



Joined: 28 May 2005
Posts: 12274 | TRs | Pics
Location: tacoma
Ski
><((((>
PostWed Sep 09, 2015 8:34 pm 
awesome. gah! 7 miles in 11 hours? brutal. welcome to the site.

"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
Nancyann
Member
Member


Joined: 28 Jul 2013
Posts: 2206 | TRs | Pics
Location: Sultan Basin
Nancyann
Member
PostWed Sep 09, 2015 9:12 pm 
Slightly badass..

Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
forest gnome
Forest nut...



Joined: 24 Apr 2003
Posts: 3502 | TRs | Pics
Location: north cascades!!
forest gnome
Forest nut...
PostWed Sep 09, 2015 9:30 pm 
niice trip! hey what kind of camera did u use?

Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
olderthanIusedtobe
Member
Member


Joined: 05 Sep 2011
Posts: 7544 | TRs | Pics
Location: Shoreline
olderthanIusedtobe
Member
PostWed Sep 09, 2015 9:55 pm 
Awesome pictures, looks like a great trip!

Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
Bman
Member
Member


Joined: 09 Sep 2015
Posts: 12 | TRs | Pics
Location: Coos Bay
Bman
Member
PostThu Sep 10, 2015 12:12 pm 
Thanks all. I was having such a hard time getting this report up, between joining flickr, resizing pics and uploading this that I thought this report did not go through.... So I tried it all again this morning, but submitting it over three posts in the same thread. Now I see I have a double post. Edit: fixed it and deleted double post. As for bears: We carried bear spray and even a marine signalling flare that we thought could also work as a bear defense, however with plenty of bear sign, some even fresh, we never once saw any! My AK partner was happy about this, although I would have liked to have seen one at least across the valley. So the bear situation was relatively easy. Kenbee: I will edit the post with a few new pictures one with a phone shot of my maps, I hope this helps. As for photos, I had to join Flickr to even get them up here, and I am not sure how I can give you better details. Point me in the right way and I'll let you know. Camera? I used an Olympus Stylus Model TG-3 shockproof and waterproof camera. If I hadn't spent so much time on the evening of day 6 snapping photos with a flash the battery would have lasted just fine up to and past day 9 One caveat for those planning this hike: We did run into 3 different parties on this trail. I was expecting to see no one, but either from afar, or meeting with them we did see people in this area Once a family from Boston, another set of tents from across the valley and day hikers in Iceberg Lake. I believe this is one of the more popular routes in the park.

Bryan
Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
Ski
><((((>



Joined: 28 May 2005
Posts: 12274 | TRs | Pics
Location: tacoma
Ski
><((((>
PostThu Sep 10, 2015 12:27 pm 
BMan: you can delete any of your own posts, AND you can delete any Trip Report (or new thread you've created) provided that no one else has posted a comment on it. (So, on your duplicates, as long as there are no comments from other users, you can delete the entire TR.)

"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
iron
Member
Member


Joined: 10 Aug 2008
Posts: 6346 | TRs | Pics
Location: southeast kootenays
iron
Member
PostThu Sep 10, 2015 12:36 pm 
really nice! looks like no ice axe/pons? and did you have to cross any major rivers?

Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
Bman
Member
Member


Joined: 09 Sep 2015
Posts: 12 | TRs | Pics
Location: Coos Bay
Bman
Member
PostThu Sep 10, 2015 1:12 pm 
We carried no ice axes with us, only trekking poles. We did have crampons, but never used them as the glacier ice travel was bare of snow and easy walking.

Bryan
Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
mountainsandsound
Member
Member


Joined: 24 Jun 2013
Posts: 193 | TRs | Pics
mountainsandsound
Member
PostThu Sep 10, 2015 1:45 pm 
Great report, thanks! I love reading up on Alaska's wild places. I'm still debating between Wrangell St Elias and Lake Clark for next summer, but leaning more toward Wrangell St Elias. How'd the BD mega work out? Did you guys have a bug net inside?

Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
Bman
Member
Member


Joined: 09 Sep 2015
Posts: 12 | TRs | Pics
Location: Coos Bay
Bman
Member
PostThu Sep 10, 2015 2:49 pm 
The mega mitt worked really well on this trip. I often shun tents and usually opt for a bivy, but Marc is definitely a tent guy and so we compromised with this Black Diamond Mega Mitt shelter. We did bring the bug screen for the bottom, and we also used the harness that comes with the shelter to utilize your own trekking poles for the tent pole. I thought it all was a hit and it was nice to have for the three nights we did have rain, the last being the heaviest, and I can tell you rain in a bivy gets tiring. As for bugs on the trail...never really a big problem. There were a few nights where they were bothersome, but never to the point that I ever pulled out my bug head net or ran screaming into the dark night of despair. Was this because we were late in the season, or because it was dry? Not sure, again we did have rain the first and last night in the backcountry.

Bryan
Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
cascadetraverser
Member
Member


Joined: 16 Sep 2007
Posts: 1391 | TRs | Pics
cascadetraverser
Member
PostThu Sep 10, 2015 4:20 pm 
Bman: Very cool! Some time ago I did a 2 week trip on the north side of the park (near Copper Lake, Jacksina river) of out Slana and really enjoyed it. Your trip reminded me of it. One thing I remembered was the ferocity of the rivers and difficulty in crossing many of them (and there were a bunch!) You managed to avoid that??

Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
Foist
Sultan of Sweat



Joined: 08 May 2006
Posts: 3947 | TRs | Pics
Location: Back!
Foist
Sultan of Sweat
PostThu Sep 10, 2015 5:30 pm 
Awesome!! We spent 5 days just poking around the Iceberg Lake valley, we were too scared to do a point-to-point trip. But what keeps happening to the photos on this report? They're not working again.

Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
   All times are GMT - 8 Hours
 Reply to topic
Forum Index > Trip Reports > Wrangell St Elias NP 7 Pass Route August 2015
  Happy Birthday Ice Girl, Laural!
Jump to:   
Search this topic:

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum