It was a Sanford attempt that fell apart due to an unpleasant weather forecast for the upcoming week. The reality that Sanford wouldn’t have happened was later cemented by boot fit issues for 2 out of the 5 in our party. But since we had already ventured nearly 20 miles deep (by snow machine), Truth Peak made for a fine consolation prize.
First of all; a big thank you to Gerek Chmielowski, Gerek’s dad, Brian Grams, and their friend Bjorn for hauling us and our heavy loads in and out of base camp. Boulder Creek would’ve been a long slog otherwise.
On Saturday March 6th we went in. Gerrit Verbeek and I hopped on the first wave with all our gear while Sawyer Huffman, Sophie Tidler, and Ryan Bish skinned in until their ride would come back. Crossing the Copper River went well because the river had frozen up about a week earlier (crossing the copper river is sometimes a deal-breaker itself). Some snow bridges in Boulder Creek caused pause to consider if they’d hold the weight of the snow machines -they did. And alas, we made it about 20 miles back to where a good protected spot in the trees was selected for the big wall-tent. We set up base camp while the three remaining skiers were picked up and brought in. That night, our spirits were on varying levels of acceptance concerning how the goal of Sanford was no longer realistic. When I got home from the trip, I wrote a poem poking fun at our defeat.
Oh? So your here to climb Mt. Sanford?
That is o.k. You are not the first.
But tell me, Hero; what did your friends say of me?
Did they tell you that I’d be a cake walk?
That I’m a non-technical, leisurely skin-up?
Ha! You. Have. NO. Chance.
But go ahead; try me.
That is, after all, what you came here to do. Isn’t it?
To ride your cavalry, so valiantly, 25 miles to my base?
To lead your infantry, so powerfully, up my ten thousand foot staircase?
To endure storms of arrows, so courageously, with a smile on your face?
To pass over rows of pitfalls, so gracefully, keeping your wits unfazed?
To breach my highest tower, so boldly, and pillage the entire place?
And finally, To produce an escape rope, so knowingly, and retreat in fashionable haste?
Ha! Ha! Ha! That fairy tale never gets old.
Oh? So you failed to climb Mount Sanford?
It’s o.k. You are not the first.
But tell me, Hero; what will you say of me to your friends?
Will you tell them that I’m a massive undertaking?
That I was an unassuming, sobering defeat?
Sunday morning, March 7th, I turned 24 years old. Neil Young’s Song ‘Old Man’ resonates with my life; “24 and there’s so much more”… The 5 of us on skis set out for Truth Peak. Truth Peak is a name I’ve given to the 6800+’ point of 500′ prominence located 2.5 miles down the west ridge of nearby Capital Mountain. My GPS clocked it in at 6860′ so its a little higher and north of the point some maps show as 6818. The name is a play off of the only other named mountain nearby (Capital Mountain) and an impressionable line in a student regent’s love letter reading “I am not afraid of Truth-capital-T”. University of Alaska student regent receives calls for resignation after sending a ‘love letter’ to all students – Anchorage Daily News (adn.com). (Side note: If someone someday climbs the 6690′ peak on the east ridge of Capital Mountain could you please call it T-Peak? Thank you).
Anyways, the 5 of us hopped on Truth Peak’s low angle northwest ridge as soon as we could. Snow cover was weak in places, but that is what skins are for, right; to protect the bases? At nearly 6000′ Sawyer and Ryan couldn’t ignore their blisters anymore. They were also out of water. So after a snack break with prime views of Sanford on a splendid day, they would go down to Boulder Creek and then back to base camp. Sophie, Gerrit, and I continued up. I split off at a little col. to skin up the west bowl/face because I figured it’d be faster and also because I wanted to feel out how much snow cover we would have for the ride down (it was enough to be playful!). Sophie and Gerrit continued up the ridge which curved into the more scrambley south ridge. As I watched them do some moves with their skis strapped to their backpacks, I was glad to have been able to skin (almost) all the way up. I placed a registrar and we enjoyed great views. Capital Mountain’s full relief was being hidden by some other gnarly blocks on the ridge between us, so what actually intrigued me the most was a spire to the south of Capital Mountain. But that’s not to say Sanford and Drum didn’t make for the most gaping view -because they did. Two Alaskan giants… for another day.
My skis bumped into few rocks on the way down, but the few they did dealt core shots. Eventually, we made it back into the sun and had a little ski back with snow sparkling in the afternoon light. Sanford could be seen developing lenticular clouds. We’d made good decisions.
Back at the wall-tent we swapped tales with Gerek and Brian who had snow machiened up to 7500′ (higher than us!) on the ridge west of the Sheep Glacier. Gerrit had brought some delicious calorie dense brownies for my birthday and Brian passed around two sticks which went in circles as we tried to determine whether or not they were crossed or straight (simple games are more entertaining in simple places).
Come Monday morning, we packed up so fast we shocked ourselves and made it back on the road by noon. It wasn’t the trip we’d come to Glenallen for, but it was far from a disappointment -and that is the Truth with a capital T!