Topic Author's Original Post - May 1, 2014 - 08:49am PT
I'm driving up to Haines, AK from Portland in June (for 2 weddings). Probably headed up the Cassiar, and back down the Al-Can. I have about 3 weeks total for the trip before I have to head back to work.
Anyone have suggestions for any must-do climbs along the way?!
I saw a picture of Joy on Mt Indefatigable in another thread, and thought "I must have that." So that's on the list...
I did it a while back, spent almost 3 months, took the ferry from Bellingham to Haines, then drove back. I'm really, really glad I took the ferry - Southeast Alaska is something that shouldn't be missed. Admittedly, the ferry was spendy, but if you measure it against fuel costs and what you get to see, I think it pencils out.
Out of Petersburg there's a remarkable outcropping called Devil's Thumb:
Whoa. . . check out that URL. . . damn. . . hope it works for you.
HAVE FUN. . . do yourself a HUGE favor and carry USD and CAD. . . through Canada you will find yourself in weird situations where gas is controlled by trippers who call the shots on how you pay. One day it will be USD only, the next it's CAD only and I'm talkin' NO CREDIT CARDS.
I had a safe welded in my engine compartment and carried $5K each and never carried more than $50 of both in my wallet - just in case anybody tried to rip me off. I'll admit restocking my wallet was thought provoking. A single woman, with the hood up sorta screams HELP ME. . .or in this case RIP ME OFF. So I had to size up each resupply and the only time I was weirded out, on the entire 15,000 miles, was doing a wallet resupply when some creepy First Nations dads land sharked me. I couldn't get out of there fast enough. YIKES!
3 weeks isn't much time if you are driving since you will lose a week in drive time alone. By car, the quickest way to Haines is going to be to drive to Skagway and then take the short ferry hop to Haines.
What type of climbs are you mostly looking for? Day trip or multi-day, rock, ice, ?
Near Haines, Mount Emmerich is incredibly impressive. The NE ridge is a classic alpine climb, but quite difficult. There is lots of rock climbing on the nearby Cathedral Towers (which are huge).
If you want something fairly easy, Tukahgo Mountain is a good one. The ridge between Mount Ripinski and Mount Shakuseyi is just a hike/scramble, but the views are incredible (if the weather is good). The impressive and spectacular Mount Sinclair, just over the channel is a real expedition mountain and seldom climbed.
Some have mentioned the Petersburg area, but I wouldnít plan on the Devils Thumb and Petersburg area if you are pressed for time. If you are short on time, youíd have to get really lucky with the weather to even see, let alone climb anything there. Itís also a long way from any driving route, so the only practical way to do it would be as a stopover on the ferry between Haines and Washington. Petersburg isnít even remotely close to Haines or close to any driving route enroute to Haines.
Watson Lake, enroute to Haines makes a nice stop over with some pretty good scrambles. Farther south, the Mount Stalin area is spectacular, but you will need at least a week for the major peaks there. If time is short, there are lesser peaks in the same area that are closer to the highway.
There are actually an incredible number of mountains between Portland and Haines, so it will be a hard choice. You may just have to pick one area and focus on it, with a few day climbs mixed in to break up the drive.
An alternative for your trip would be to simply fly to Juneau (or fly to Haines, but itís a short ferry ride from Juneau) and focus on the area between Juneau and Haines. If you want to get to Haines, flying and the short ferry ride will probably work out to be cheaper than driving and you don't need a car to climb a bunch of stuff in that area since the ferry provides good access and there are buses along roads as well. The mountains between Juneau and Haines are some of the most spectacular Iíve seen anywhere in the world (Iíve seen most major mountain ranges in the world). You have to get a little lucky with the weather though. June is perhaps the best weather month though, so you should have at least some spells of good weather.
Love that drive, driven it five times. First time in Octí97 then July of í01, í05, í11, and again in September of í11; really the only ďfamilyĒ vacations Iíve had. Pick up a copy of the Milepost, best $30 youíll spend on the whole trip.
Here is a list I put together for my trip in 2011, but unfortunately my plans changed and had to make both trips rushed.
Iíll second the drive to Skagway and ferry to Haines. Plenty of rock around either of those places to keep you busy if youíre adventurous enough.