Peak 8230

The goal was big for the winter, Peak 8230′. We would make it to the 8,000′ contour on the second day, standing above a sea of fog… but for the summit we would have needed 3 more hours of daylight to feel comfortable making the push.

Saturday February 6th 2020 Sean Marble and I departed from a pullout near the Northern Warfare Training Center and made way for the Black Rapids Glacier. The winds were rather strong and since I had left my snowpants in the car, was forced to wrap a quarterzip around my waist in a make-shift orange skirt. I managed like this for the remainder of the trip. We skinned in on downhill skis, which, I think, was a mistake because the valley was so windblasted that we could have simply hiked it in boots and shaved a lot of weight (maybe bring snowshoes for some super short sections). Hind sight is 20/20. Eventually our skis were ditched at 3200′ on the way up into the bowl east of Peak 8230. On a little ridge between two drainages we continued up to 4500′ where we made camp and turned in early. Sean melted an endless supply of snow and I ate a peanut butter pad thai meal that brought on a wonderful food coma. We’d spent the first day underneath the clouds, but in the morning we would climb out of them.

We tried to get up early (7 or 8am), which isn’t a ton of fun when it is a chilly winter morning. We continued up the bowl, around the Gale surveyor point. At 6500′ we reached the base of a nice steep couloir. If it was much steeper (or the snow harder) I would’ve found it mentally exhaustive, but as it was; it was a good boot up. Half way up we realized that we’d be out of the clouds. Well, I thought we were half way up. In truth that was at about 1/3 and the couloir just seemed to drag on and on. Sean and I traded off setting the boot pack. Once on the ridge we could see our intended peak; Peak 8230. It was a quick and unanimous decision that we didn’t have the time to take it on. I trudged south to take some photos on a little perch that barely broke 8000′, making it the highest I’ve ever been in the winter. The views from above this sea of fog were spectacular. Only three other times have I been graced with observing a scene from above a sea of clouds; North Suicide Peak, East Twin Peak, and Nest Peak. It is a divine and rare treat.

We retraced our steps back down and to camp. We quickly packed up and had a fun time (haha, not) navigating back down to our skis on hard snow and in foggy, dim light. We enjoyed no turns, but we made it down to the toe of the Black Rapids Glacier and proceeded to skin out to the car. The illumination of the Northern Warfare Training Center was a lighthouse keeping our skis on course. On the way home, we caught some faint northern lights. I’ve had (what I feel is) more than my fair share of summitless trips this winter but not a lot of disappointments.

The next weekend me and some friends made a daytrip rally for Donelly Dome. Which made Donnelly Dome my first summit of the year. It was a good crispy clear day, but the wind was a raging.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: