Meteorite Mountain (6565ft) - 16Apr2024

Meteorite Mountain from Browns Creek

     I first laid my eyes on this Mountain when I moved to Valdez for school in January of 2021. It is very impressive and intimidating, to say the least. At this time climbing the face was not even in the back of my head. Just thoughts of that's a sick mountain. Quickly becoming overwhelmed with the sheer ruggedness of the peaks in the zone, I came up with more and more peaks I'd like to try and ascend. From town Meteorite, Francis, Sugarloaf, Snowdome (Nemok), Benet, and Hogsback become eye candy I stared at every day the sun was out. 

Big Avy. Photo credit: Snowbrains
   April 2023 came along, and I knew I was ready to climb the face. The climbing is not overly technical just very steep snow. Conditions are the crux of the climb. Once the approach is done you are in Avy terrain for 5500ft with only a few sections of relief. I had my bags packed and trip planned to head to Valdez for the weekend to climb. I checked the weather with a great high pressure sitting over the range and things seemed to be stabilizing. I aggressively rechecked the weather and the temperatures kept increasing and lows were well above freezing even at night. This would have created tough approach conditions and unsafe slopes. The night before heading into town I had this gut feeling to not go. Something was very wrong; I woke up and saw the face avalanched. I was relieved I decided to call it but also terrified. Questioning is this Mountain worth climbing?

Meteorite and the Northern Lights
     April 16th of 2024, I answered this question. I woke up at 1AM and stepped outside with temps well below freezing, conditions as stable as they can get, and northern lights popping off in the sky. I ate my world-famous peanut butter and jelly then headed to the starting point. The approach was anticlimactic besides a few bushes that definitely looked like bears from afar.

Climb to gain Dragons Back
    The approach was over and the 6000ft climb to the summit began. At this point, there is a risk at every point of the climb. Either in avalanche terrain, crossing a glacier, or gaining the face above the bergschrund. The access ramp was in great shape as the freeze-thaw cycle created a solid crust to 3400ft which made it easy to gain the glacier. At the glacier, I swapped to skis and was able to switch back to skis to travel across the glacier and cross the shrund. The snow on the glacier was deep! After crossing the shrund I started the climb up the dragon's back and realized the amount of work I would have to do to finish the climb.

Gaining the Dragons Back
     The first few hundred feet on the dragon's back I used my snowshoes, till the snow became too steep. This is where verts become useful unfortunately, they were out of stock before my last-minute trip, but I made it work. The climb became steeper and steeper. Before each step, I was using my pole to clear a foot of sluff to be able to swing my leg above my previous step. Kick, kick, slam axe into snow, clear the sluff, and repeat. Only a few more thousand times of doing this and I'll be on the summit ridge... breath out, kick, kick, slam axe, and clear sluff. Every time I looked up the summit didn't seem to get any closer. Kept looking back down to ensure I was making progress and not stuck in a dream loop.

Gaining the ridge looking at true summit

     Gaining the summit ridge was the first time I could sit down and take a quick breather. Finally in a safe spot where I knew I'd be safe from avalanches before I started my descent. After the relief of being on the ridge, I realized my hands had been buried under the snow for the last few hours breaking trail. My hands were frozen and had next to no coordination left. I sat down and put my big mittens on, and they quickly warmed up. I had a very fun case of the screaming-barfies as I was mentally preparing for the traverse to the true summit. This was the only part of the climb I was unsure of. Many parties had climbed to the shoulder and called it the summit, but it is clear down the ridge there is a point 50ft higher. The climbing to the summit ended up being no harder than class 3 but the drop-off on the right side was impressive. 

Summit Ridge

Summit shot
      10 Hours later I was standing on the top of Meteorite from the Road. There was no celebration at this point, I still had to drop 6000ft back to Browns Creek. I retraced my steps down the ridge carefully down-climbing and steering clear of the cornices. I glissaded down the dragon's back which was a very interesting experience. 45 minutes after standing on the summit I was back to my skis and began the 4000ft ski back to the creek. The ski down the glacier went great but the access ramp was slow wide turns because the sun started doing some serious damage. Some rockfall began, and roller balls were forming. I made quick work getting down and stayed high and shot as far as I could to reduce skinning out of Browns Creek.

Skiing Down the Glacier,

Heading Down

     The rest of the hike out was a blur, the only thing on my mind was the IGA sandwich and cookies I had waiting for me in the car. Took one last look at Meteorite and was stoked to have finally climbed this peak after many years of planning. 

Meteorite Mountain and Alien Peak 


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