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Tuesday
Apr172007

Eklutna Traverse Day Tour

The Eklutna Traverse is best done as a five-day trip while staying in the dramatic MCA huts and skiing peaks along the way. Another option is blasting the traverse as a day-tour with almost no gear. While this may seem rash, if you look at the stats (38 miles and 7,000 vertical feet) you'll see the Eklutna is less tiring than the Suisitna 100, Wilderness Classic or the Tour of Anchorage, AND more fun because no one is watching!

After guiding the Eklutna Traverse several times, I talked Andrew Wexler into day touring the route with me. Wex is vertically-inclined, so he took some convincing. We started from the Eklutna Reservoir trailhead at 6am in May 2005 and emerged on the Crow Creek Road in Girdwood 14 hours and 17 minutes later. We lugged heavy AT gear and walked 15 miles to reach snow. What would it be like with more snow?

On April 17, 2007 Andrew McCarthy and I skated across the Eklutna reservoir with scaled, metal-edge skis. With perfect low elevation conditions we calculated 12 hours to Girdwood, max.

Drew skating across Eklutna Reservoir. A major shortcut, unless you fall in. Be careful around the inlet. 

 

On the Eklutna Glacier near Pichler's Perch and Peril Peak. We took skinny skins to climb the steeper sections. Skinny skins are old-school skins sliced lengthwise to make skins 1-inch wide for flattish tours.

 

Bombing into the Eagle Glacier. We were breaking trail six inches deep across everything above 3,000 feet. Not so fast.

 

Breaking trail for eight hours when you don't expect it made Drew hungrier than normal.

 

We practiced LNT along the way and kicked over a few cairns.

 

Down climbing Goat Ridge. The final 2,000 feet to Crow Creek was lean-back-and-surf on isothermal slop. At the road my stopwatch read 14 hours and 17 minutes. Arghh! Exact same time as two years earlier with Wex. Rob Whitney and Holly Brooks skated and ran it in 12 hours in late May 2010.