Alien Peak (5078ft) - 27Apr2022
|Alien Peak North Ridge|
I first saw this peak emerging from Keystone Canyon, but my eyes were immediately drawn to Meteorite Mountain. Meteorite is an impressive mountain, but lately, peaks with zero beta are far more appealing than anything. So the plan to do this peak came out of nowhere. I was having a bad day, so I went on a drive to clear my head. I planned to head to the pass to plot a future overnight trip route, but my eyes stumbled on this peak and its impressive Northern Ridge.
The day started with a 15-minute hike to Browns Creek. The snow bridge has seen better days, but with the water only shin deep, it was worth the risk of collapsing. The bridge held, and it was time to enter the Alaskan jungle.
The bushwhacking was pretty tame. It was a little more than weaving in and out of
trees. The thing that sucked was freezing level was 1500ft, so there was no freeze crust the entire time I was below the tree line. Just deep plunging in snowshoes step after step. It didn't take too long to get above the tree line on the solid crust; before I knew it, I was cruising. In the alpine, it was epic to see bear prints and where they were traversing. At 3000ft, the route came into view for the first time since leaving the car.
|Meteorite and Alien Peak|
Still, at this time, I was determining the last 600ft. I knew to 4400ft would be a cruiser. The only thing on my mind was the snow was in great shape right now and to just gain the ridge and see how I feel when I got there. So I snowshoed to 4400ft; this was when I switched to crampons. Again, the bank was in great shape, it had awesome snow coverage, very few cornices, and just pristine views.
|Start of ridge|
At this point, my mind went into a flow state; I was happy and focused on each move. I was just taking it one foot at a time. At 4600ft, I ran into the first crux; it was the gendarme on the ridge. With climbers left, I tried to negotiate it, but the snow offered very little purchase. I went climbers on the western face and traversed across a near-vertical drop. Fantastic snow and two alpine axes made the exposure virtually disappear from my brain.
Once around the gendarme, the climb to the false summit was in sight, and the ridge widened for a short time. This section offered some relief from exposure for a short period before the main crux.
Standing on top of Kevin and Barracuda point at 4780ft, I could set eyes on the last 300ft of the climb. The view of this in person was breathtaking; it was the coolest ridge I have seen. The climb's crux was dropping around 80ft on class 4 crud and snow to reach the col before the final summit push.
|Class 4 down climb|
Once I could down climb, I knew I would be able to tag the summit. The snow climb was so much fun to the forum. I stayed climbers left as much as possible because there were a few small cornices overhanging the peak's west face. Shortly after starting from the col, I was standing on Alien Peak. The views always always satisfy in the Central Chugach and were rewarded with a unique perspective of Meteorite Mountain.
Time on the summit was concise, it was warming up, and the snow was softening quick. So I dropped the 300ft back to the col and carefully climbed the class 4 crud back to Kevin and Barracuda Point. The down climb was relatively easy as I had to retrace my steps and carefully traverse the gendarme. The snow was becoming super sticky, so I had to slap my axe against my boot to clear out my crampons of snow after each step. This way, I can get proper purchase in the snow and not go sliding down the face. Once around the gendarme, the ridge opened back up to easy terrain.
|Looking back down the ridge|
Once I was off the ridge, I could shut my brain off because I was out of all avalanche terrain and no longer in a no-fall zone. I just enjoyed the views of the Central Chugach and looked at future objectives as I descended back to the car.