Sunday, October 1, 2017

Korohusk Peak w/ Adrian - Full-on Fall Fun

Korohusk Peak 9/30/17
10:23:51/15.9Mi/7568ft

  This might have been one of the most magically aligned mountain days of the whole year - perfect weather, perfect gear list, perfect peak, near perfect routefinding, and great company!

Maybe the last time summer scramble gear is used!
   I picked up Adrian around 7:20, and we were hiking from the Eagle River Nature Center by 8.  There was a touch of damp chill in the air, as recent rainfall still saturated the first four miles of our approach on the Crow Pass trail.  A few low lying clouds hung about, but things looked bright and clear up high.  As we walked, we noticed that there was some serious erosion going on near The Perch, and that it seems a trail re-route is in the works.

Passing Echo Bend, looking toward Yukla (in the cloud)

View from The Perch.  Eagle Peak on right, Organ Mtn. in the middle, and Polar Bear on the left.  Some trail erosion going on nearby!
   Since I'd never climbed a peak from ERNC, I was very cautious about getting started on the right foot.  We first went a bit too far and hit Dishwater Creek, then backtracked to the worn "Trail" sign noted by Bill Finley in his trip reports.  From there, we simply entered the woods and hoped to find a trail.

   From time to time, a trail seemed to appear, but stayed vague until about 15 minutes in.  At that point, we found our way to a steep clearing and a obvious trail that led steeply upward.  As we followed, it became increasingly hard to do so - the trail was fading and leveling out.  We were led to a fork, took a turn uphill, and then the trail was gone.

   We then came to a large mossy rock in a clearing, and could see what lay ahead uphill.  Cliffs!  We'd been led to cliffs!

Don't go the way on the left - there be cliffs!

   After a thankfully brief alder bushwack, we went under and to the right of the cliffs, stumbling upon another fairly distinct trail.  This again we followed, and again were left stranded after the trail ran out.

   By this point, I was fairly certain where we had to go, so we struck off into the trees without a trail.  This would be a bad idea in quite a few places in Alaska, but the deciduous trees made for very decent bushwack.   Dishwater Creek was down out of sight in steep terrain to our right, but we used its sound as a guide to the moraine.

   In the last half mile before hitting treeline, we did pick up another trail, and this trail continued all the way to the moraine.  We had arrived!

   The few clouds we had seen earlier were burning away, so we were treated to heartrending sights of Nantina Point, Kiliak, Eagle, and many other tall snow shrouded peaks.  We both agreed that it was a great to be out here.

Coming above treeline - Eagle Peak behind us.

The moraine in front of us.  Korohusk is on the left, Kiliak and Nantina on the right.

Adrian doing some typical side-hilling

Pano of Adrian sidehilling with Eagle in the background

   Although the remaining clouds were sparse, a persistent one stayed on Korohusk, obscuring our view of the route.  We got off the moraine, and sidehilled our way to a gully on the south face.  Upon reaching it, we went up and around the worst bit to avoid some wet rock.  At this point, we were surrounded by cloud.

Adrian coming up to the likely looking gully (behind me)

The gully.  We went up and around to my right.

The cloud was definitely a factor.  Guesswork for the route!
   It was guess work and avoiding pinch points from here - we encountered cliffs ahead and went left, chasing open terrain and avoiding the steepest, wettest looking areas.  We eventually came to what is likely a stream earlier in the year, and climbed next to it on the left.  We then dropped back into it as the angle slacked off, and peeped over on the right side to see what lay in that direction.

   A snow couloir to the summit! We were going to make it!

Adrian climbing on climbers left of what is likely a stream earlier in the year.

Crossing over to find the couloir
Almost there!

Finding the couloir
   The clouds were thinning out at this height, and we were quite hot as we kicked steps up the couloir and the bright sun shone down.  It was steep, sweaty, yet confident going.  As we got closer to the summit, the snow got a bit harder, and care was needed to kick steps.  After this weekend (9/30) it's not likely to be doable without an ax.

Adrian coming up the snow

Cloud was off and on
   We came to the end of the couloir, and realized that we had been eyeing a FALSE summit.  The good news is that the real summit was only about 5 minutes away!

That back there was the false summit!
   It was literally hot at the summit, though we had cold toes from submerging our running shoes in powder snow.  The views were mesmerizing - Yukla, Kiliak, Eagle, far and wide into the central Chugach as well.  Snow was settling into the mountains, and despite how fair the day was, we felt that winter was not far off.  After some congratulations and snacks, we went down.

Adrian @ summit!

Me @ summit.

Kiliak and Yukla, plus some central Chugach on the left.
   The way down was pleasant!  Only the very top of the snow couloir was the least bit of concern - right at the edge of probably wanting an ax, just in case.  Once we were past that though, it was fast going.  The rock further down the peak had dried out considerably, so we felt pretty good about what had earlier been slippery.  In no time, we were down to the moraine.

Almost wanted an axe.

Nantina pano

Coming down on nicely dry rock!

Adrian on the moraine

Me on the moraine
   Heading back into treeline, we did manage to follow more trail than on the way up, but it was still disconnected and spotty.  This time we avoided the cliff, but never did stay on a trail the entire way.  In this type of woods, it was fine, and we neatly avoided any significant thickets.  It was about 5PM as we regained the Crow Pass trail, and had a leisurely walk back to the car.

   Adrian had brought a thermos of tea the whole way, intending to share it on the summit, but it was a welcome victory brew at the ERNC.  Mmmm, mint!  We talked about how perfect the day had been, and had a very tranquil drive back to Anchorage.  Now that's how to cap off a summer of mountains!

Thanks for coming Adrian!

LINKS
Heading back to ERNC - almost sunset
The route.  Note the difficulties near Dishwater Creek.

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