Chugach Front Linkup

Cosmic Integration in the Chugach Mountains

The mountains above Anchorage, separated by Ship Creek and Indian Creek, are called the Chugach Front Range. These are the tippy western end of the Chugach Mountains. This small subrange has 35 named summits (Imus Geographics Chugach State Park map) and 12 that rise above 5,000 feet. Connecting these 12 highest summits in a single push is an attractive and lofty goal for Anchorage mountain runners. This Chugach Front Linkup has also become knows as Cosmic Integration. For young runners, who know the route, sub-20 hours should be possible.

While many Anchorage runners are physically capable of the Chugach Front Linkup, the real crux is piecing together a logical route. Finding a fast and safe line between these rugged and complicated summits takes years of research. Venturing on these endless research runs is a mountain runners dream. Ticking off the linkup is just the graduation party. To maximize our fun, let's keep route descriptions short. And please, no blow by blow maps!

Linkup Stats

19–21,000 vertical feet, 36-44 miles

History

1990 27:30 hours, Shawn Lyons, Walk About Guide to Alaska, Vol 2

2006 23:13 hours, Trond Jensen and Joe Stock, Trail Runner Jan 2007

2008 34 hours, Rob Develice and Charlie Thomas 

2008 22:40 hours, JT Lindholm 

2010 22:42 hours, Harlow Robinson

2012 29 hours, Abby and Stephen Rideout

2016 22:10 hours, Harlow Robinson and Matias Saari, Alaska Dispatch News.

2016 June 25, 27:22 hours, Aaron Thrasher

2016 July 9, 24:13 hours, Marlo Karjala

2017 July 22, 18:10 hours, Peter Mamrol and Lars Arneson, Alaska Dispatch News.

The Chugach Front 5,000-Foot Peaks

Mount Williwaw 5,445’

Temptation Peak 5,383’

Tanaina Peak 5,358’

The Ramp 5,240’

Tikishla Peak 5,230’

West Tanaina Peak 5,200’

O'Malley Peak 5,150'

Koktoya Peak 5,148’

Hidden Peak 5,105’

North Suicide Peak 5,065’

Avalanche Mountain 5,050'

Suicide Peak 5,005’

To learn the route, I spent a few years of summer evenings and weekends peak bagging and running in the Chugach Front. Almost always alone, pushing the limit of my body. This photo is from a day with Andrew McCarthy when we linked up six of the high peaks. 

To learn the route, I spent a few years of summer evenings and weekends peak bagging and running in the Chugach Front. Almost always alone, pushing the limit of my body. This photo is from a day with Andrew McCarthy when we linked up six of the high peaks. 

The difficulty of the linkup is learning if each section of ridge is better traversed or avoided. Fog can help, making exposed traverses less fearsome by hiding the abyss. 

The difficulty of the linkup is learning if each section of ridge is better traversed or avoided. Fog can help, making exposed traverses less fearsome by hiding the abyss. 

Sheep trails are a rare luxury.

Sheep trails are a rare luxury.

Snow can make the linkup easier by smoothing out the scree and turning the descents into glissades. 

Snow can make the linkup easier by smoothing out the scree and turning the descents into glissades. 

Finishing in the twilight in the grass and brush. This is a popular time to run into large toothy critters. 

Finishing in the twilight in the grass and brush. This is a popular time to run into large toothy critters. 

Regular snacking will keep your energy levels up. Once that's done, the Western Chugach 7,000-footers in a single push is a logical progression.