Double Glacier

Glenn, James, Paul and I needed an adventure. A place with no information. Where we could just go and see what happens. We asked our man Steve Gruhn for trip ideas. From a list of options, we picked a remote corner of the Neacola Mountains, a sub-range of the Aleutian Range. A region I'd neglected since 2011. 

We didn't go to the Neacolas. 

Getting to remote is Alaska is the first obstacle. At Sportsman's Air Service at Lake Hood we checked the FAA weather cameras with Joe Schuster. Marginal weather, but we decided to get in the Super Cub and give the flight a shot. The problem was Schuster said, "It's your call." That means I would pay the bill for a botched flight. Flights to the middle of nowhere Alaska are not cheap. 

Getting to remote is Alaska is the first obstacle. At Sportsman's Air Service at Lake Hood we checked the FAA weather cameras with Joe Schuster. Marginal weather, but we decided to get in the Super Cub and give the flight a shot. The problem was Schuster said, "It's your call." That means I would pay the bill for a botched flight. Flights to the middle of nowhere Alaska are not cheap. 

We found out mountaineers are not priority at Sportsman's. This flight was taking wine-tasting caterers out to the Tordrillo Mountain Lodge. What's just out of sight in this photo are two pallets of skinned beaver carcasses, waiting to be transported to hunting lodges for bear-baiting. 

We found out mountaineers are not priority at Sportsman's. This flight was taking wine-tasting caterers out to the Tordrillo Mountain Lodge. What's just out of sight in this photo are two pallets of skinned beaver carcasses, waiting to be transported to hunting lodges for bear-baiting. 

Entering the Neacolas, above the Blockade Glacier and the McArthur River, riding the Super Cub like a bucking bronc in pounding wind. Our first choice landing zone wasn't happening. Pilot Ben Knapp and I turned east toward Cook Inlet. Looking for another zone. Recently, I've grown to enjoy picking base camp locations on the fly. Just looking out the window, then pointing over the pilot's shoulder and saying into the headset, "Right there!" And anyway, trips are not supposed to go as planned in Alaska. If they went as planned, it wouldn't be an adventure. 

Entering the Neacolas, above the Blockade Glacier and the McArthur River, riding the Super Cub like a bucking bronc in pounding wind. Our first choice landing zone wasn't happening. Pilot Ben Knapp and I turned east toward Cook Inlet. Looking for another zone. Recently, I've grown to enjoy picking base camp locations on the fly. Just looking out the window, then pointing over the pilot's shoulder and saying into the headset, "Right there!" And anyway, trips are not supposed to go as planned in Alaska. If they went as planned, it wouldn't be an adventure. 

Ben landed the Cub on a broad glacial ridge surrounded by numerous peaks and extruded himself from the plane. Fortunately, back at Lake Hood in Anchorage, minutes before getting on the plane, I downloaded a low-res map of the entire Neacola and Chigmit region onto my phone. When I located myself on the phone, I learned our location: Double Glacier in the Chigmit Mountains. Oh yeah!

Ben landed the Cub on a broad glacial ridge surrounded by numerous peaks and extruded himself from the plane. Fortunately, back at Lake Hood in Anchorage, minutes before getting on the plane, I downloaded a low-res map of the entire Neacola and Chigmit region onto my phone. When I located myself on the phone, I learned our location: Double Glacier in the Chigmit Mountains. Oh yeah!

The Boys, as my wife calls us. I've been going on trips with Glenn Wilson (blue jacket) for 20 years, James Kesterson for 15 years and Paul Muscat (right) for 10 years. These trips include: Mount Baker, Denali, Mount Marcus Baker, Mount Bona, Iliamna Volcano, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Mount Logan, Mount Chamberlin, Mount Isto and now the Double Glacier. Many memories. 

The Boys, as my wife calls us. I've been going on trips with Glenn Wilson (blue jacket) for 20 years, James Kesterson for 15 years and Paul Muscat (right) for 10 years. These trips include: Mount Baker, Denali, Mount Marcus Baker, Mount Bona, Iliamna Volcano, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Mount Logan, Mount Chamberlin, Mount Isto and now the Double Glacier. Many memories. 

On this trip we climbed peaks every day. All of them with no sign of humans. I didn't even get a chance to knock down cairns. On this trip we had a lot of rain and snow. I guess this is the weather necessary for 4,000-foot mountains to become draped in thick glacier ice. 

On this trip we climbed peaks every day. All of them with no sign of humans. I didn't even get a chance to knock down cairns. On this trip we had a lot of rain and snow. I guess this is the weather necessary for 4,000-foot mountains to become draped in thick glacier ice. 

We managed the marginal weather with hours and hours and hours of BSing. Like only long-time friends can do. Here's Glenn, James and Paul having the twentieth impassioned BS session of the day. Beyond is Cook Inlet with the oil and gas platforms barely visible. 

We managed the marginal weather with hours and hours and hours of BSing. Like only long-time friends can do. Here's Glenn, James and Paul having the twentieth impassioned BS session of the day. Beyond is Cook Inlet with the oil and gas platforms barely visible. 

Our most significant peak was the first known ascent of Peak 6,402. Remote, wild and waaay out there. 

Our most significant peak was the first known ascent of Peak 6,402. Remote, wild and waaay out there. 

This peak we turned around on due to avalanche conditions. 

This peak we turned around on due to avalanche conditions. 

On our last day we woke at 11:30pm for a crack at Double Peak. At 6,818 feet Double Peak looks down on the entire zone. We made it to a few hundred feet from the summit, but were denied by steepness and avalanche conditions. 

On our last day we woke at 11:30pm for a crack at Double Peak. At 6,818 feet Double Peak looks down on the entire zone. We made it to a few hundred feet from the summit, but were denied by steepness and avalanche conditions. 

After a week of climbing many summits, and hours of fascinating conversation, we flew back to Anchorage over the Cook Inlet tidal wetlands and duck-hunting shacks.  Yet another trip of 100% success with best friends. I can't wait until our next installment James, Glenn and Paul!

After a week of climbing many summits, and hours of fascinating conversation, we flew back to Anchorage over the Cook Inlet tidal wetlands and duck-hunting shacks. 

Yet another trip of 100% success with best friends. I can't wait until our next installment James, Glenn and Paul!