#SkiTheBig3 — Mount Hunter High Camp

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | May 9, 2014      

Update 5/11/2014: The crew has climbed and skied from the summit of Mount Hunter, they’re bivouacked part way down the mountain to rest and wait for the right temperatures to complete descent down to their high camp on glacier.

Aaron probes for a safe camp spot on the glacier arm on south side of Mount Hunter, above the icefall.

Aaron probes for a safe camp spot on the glacier arm on south side of Mount Hunter, above the icefall.

We leave low camp on the Kahiltna at 4:45 am. It’s not quite dark, but close by Alaska standards. Stepping out of the tent I watch as the last of a red moon fades over Mount Foraker. Off we go. Skinning for the first mile or so, then crampons as we cross the heinous but now well-wanded route through the gut of the glacier.

Evan  coming  through the icefall at sunrise

Evan coming through the icefall at sunrise

Aaron leads the quick pitch of WI4 water ice and we rope haul our bags up it. I finish after sending the bags up to our haulers and we are on our way again. A quick steep snow pitch and it’s back to skis and skins for the last 1/2 mile or so to our camp for the day.

It’s day because our plan is to start climbing at 9 pm tonight, since this route is 6000 vertical from here and gets early sun, and given that it’s probably 45 degrees F as I sit here looking down glacier, we would like to avoid being on the Ramen route when it starts peeling apart tomorrow! Aaron is over there snoring looking like something out of Star Wars. We brought only a Black Diamond Mega Light tent up this high since our friend Joel Gratz over at Open Snow says the weather will be fine. Joal gave us the perfect weather window reports during our trip in 2010, we’re thinking he will repeat. Thanks Joel!

View of Foraker from deep in the icefall.

View of Foraker from deep in the icefall.

(‘Big Three’ is an Alaskan ski mountaineering expedition cooked up by four deprived (or perhaps depraved?) guys who never get enough ski and snowboard mountaineering. The idea is to ski Denali, Mount Foraker, and Mount Hunter all during one expedition.)

Map below shows location of high camp. Click the “View on Google Maps” link.

View Larger Map


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11 Responses to “#SkiTheBig3 — Mount Hunter High Camp”

  1. Billy Balz May 9th, 2014 7:19 pm

    Nice stuff! I was climbing WI3+ ice for first time this winter in NH. 75-80 pitch with some shelfs in between. Are you guys using technical ice tools and ice crampons to get through the steep pitches? Or can you manage with conventional ice axes and horizontal crampons? Are you placing screws on these pitches? Be safe and I’m really enjoying your trip reports.

  2. Lou Dawson May 10th, 2014 7:10 am

    Billy, thanks for checking out the AK reports. The guys are doing a good job of managing glacier life along with staying in touch with their live-blogging.

    I’m in 2-way communication with the guys in AK, but they’re not reading these blog posts as their IT systems are super low bandwidth so they can’t really web browse. Once they’re taking a few rest or storm days, I’ll see if they can answer a few questions via our comm system, and I’ll post replies here.


  3. Lisa Champeau May 10th, 2014 9:32 am

    Fantastic pix and excellent reporting! I held my breath for you guys through the icefall! Stay safe and see you on the other side!

  4. Douglas May 10th, 2014 12:26 pm

    Send it Gentlemen!

  5. Lisa Dawson May 10th, 2014 7:23 pm

    Enjoying the updates. Keep us posted.

  6. Lou Dawson May 10th, 2014 7:48 pm

    Real Time: we got an update from Jordan’s inReach, they’re bivouacked for 5 hours or so near the summit of Hunter, waiting for temps to cool down for safe descent. Reported that climb was “complex.” Lou

  7. Lou Dawson May 11th, 2014 9:11 am

    Updated this morning, #SkiTheBig3 has summited Mount Hunter and began their ski descent. Lou

  8. Joseph.Szasz May 11th, 2014 9:55 am

    Congrats guys! Keep up the solid decision making!

  9. Matt Kinney May 11th, 2014 10:19 am

    Congrats!. Alaska style high pressure has set in for the next week or more which should provide really good weather, pics and reports. Amazing spring here and more so up there.

  10. Lorne Glick May 11th, 2014 2:06 pm

    Nice going up there ski adventurers! Congrats. It is a doozy.

    Don’t get too filled up on ramen; you’ll need your appetite for a couple of rather large entrées.

    Can’t wait to see more pics.

  11. Dave Hoff May 11th, 2014 2:25 pm


    Jennifer, Nathan and I send our wishes for a safe and exciting trip. Please be careful.

    Dave Hoff

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