McHugh Peak (Alaska, USA)

Party: Luke, Lizzy and Felix (author)
Photos: Luke, Felix

I’d been in contact with Luke a bit since meeting him on the Bomber Glacier but hadn’t managed to catch up. However, we made some last minute plans the day before and met up at the place I was staying at. Lizzy, a friend of his that he had couch-surfed with came along to, and we followed here to the TH at the end of Canyon Rd.
The morning wasn’t as cold as expected, perhaps due to all the clouds which had rolled in overnight. The moon was visible below the clouds and looked very majestical. I had lost my beanie on the Pinnell Mountain Trail about a week ago, but I was lucky that Luke had a took toque for me (Crow Pass).

We headed up the wide beaten trail spying a number of moose on the way up the valley. Some of the bull moose were huge and we admired their large racks through a couple of binoculars the others had brought along.
When I had hiked up here a couple of months ago there were small streams crisscrossing the trail. These had now frozen making it slippery, but also meant you couldn’t really get wet feet.
As we continued to gain altitude the Suicide Peaks slowly came into view and grew larger. We had planned to climb South Suicide and then cross Windy Gap and try the North one too… but as we got closer we weren’t too sure how safe it would be with all the snow on their slopes.

We decided to have a break on the shores of Rabbit Lake. We snacked (mmm carrots and scroggin) and talked, trying to keep warm in the brisk morning air. The lake was partly frozen over and made cool sounds when I tapped it with a rock. Using two rocks, I could tap it in different spots to produce differing sounds.


We were soon moving again. Unfortunately Liz had to head back out to catch up on some work. So we said bye and thanked her for her company.
We had decided to change plans and due to the snow, there were a few backup options to choose from and soon Luke and I were heading up the ridge leading to McHugh Peak.
The ridge was straight forward and provided fantastic views pretty much everywhere we looked, though the highlight was probably the two peaks rising abruptly from the lake we had come from.


Part way up we came across a friendly ptarmigan that had already turned white and had some very fluffy feet.

As we climbed made sure we stopped regularly to take in the views. A couple of times we lost quite a lot of altitude as the ridge dipped down only to rise higher again.
One section almost looked like we could be on another planet with the gravelled featureless landscape.



The clouds were starting to roll in behind us and it looked like a storm was blowing in. As we scrambled up the last turret of rock and sat on the top some snow flakes started falling confirming what we had feared.
Because of this we didn’t spend two long at the summit before starting to descend down a different ridge. As the temperature dropped, we zig-zagged to avoid some patches of snow and hurried on down the trail that soon appeared.





Our car was parked on the other side of the valley so we still had an arduous crossing ahead of us. At the car park, we asked some locals who had just finished ahead of up what the best way was to cross. There was a trail, but it would be hard to find and might cross private property… they weren’t too sure where to pick it up… but then we were offered a lift around to were our car was!
We didn’t think too much before accepting, it had been an awesome day but we had both had enough. Our chauffeur was super friendly and knew some of the people I had recently been hiking with. He was also a para-glider which is what he did most of the time. I hadn’t seen too many para-gliders though I had seen some jump off Flattop when I did a walk up there.

Soon back at the car, we quickly drove down a ways before deciding what to do. The snow had started to settle and we didn’t want to run into trouble.
Dinner sounded like a good idea, so we called Liz to see if she wanted to join us at the Moose’s Tooth… but unfortunately study got in the way.

I was starving. We shared a large, eventually warming up and feeling very satisfied with the day!


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