Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Pioneer Peak Hike

Several interesting things have happened lately: I no longer have giardia; my camera will be spending a quiet and lonely winter sitting by a river in the Arctic; I've discovered how awesome duck hunting is; and we hiked Pioneer Peak.

I clearly remember Pioneer from my first ski trip to Alaska. As you drive towards Anchorage from the North, Pioneer's 6,200 vertical foot face screams at you. Since then I've dreamed about skiing it. When Whit and Kelly mentioned hiking it, I figured it would be a good recon mission.

Pioneer's huge west face, topping on the cake on the drive back from a great day at Hatcher Pass.

We got off to the usual early start. Erin woke me up with a phone call 15 minutes after I was supposed to be at her house, then we drove back across town to pick up a pair of shoes. Not everyone hikes in their slippers.

Pioneer's two summits coming into view:

Getting close to the ridge. This section would make an epic bike ride, to bad for the muddy slip and slide below.

As we climbed towards the ridge Denali started to rise above the Talkeetnas.

Reaching the ridge; the Knik river is visible 5,000 feet below.

The Knik Glacier and Mount Goode to the East; Marcus Baker is just out of sight to the left. Mt. Goode is 3,186 meters tall, funny to think I used to live at that elevation in Colorado.

Upon reaching the ridge, we followed it west, gaining the last 1,000 vertical feet to the summit. It ended up with fun and slightly exposed scrambling.

The top was absolutely superb, barely any wind, a perfect fall day. Pioneer is kind of like Penguin Ridge, set apart from any other high land it has absolutely incredible views in all directions.

Looking towards the west summit, Foraker and Denali are just visible through the haze (of my camera phone).

Jim Creek, 6,200 feet below. Throughout the day we heard many suspiciously canon-esque explosions coming from there. Probably antiaircraft guns...

Turning around and hiking back brought a whole new set of views. Bold and Baleful are center, I think Bashful is hidden in there. The Mitre, Eklutna Glacier, and Peril Peak on the right:

We stopped before leaving the ridge to check out Marcus Baker, the highest peak in the Chugach:

12 years young, she's gonna be sore tomorrow, serves her right for stealing Whit's lunch.

One last picture, it sure has been a beautiful fall.

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