After finishing the last (night) shift of the project “Repave Denali Park Road”, my ladyfriend Phoenix drove my car north to meet me. I transitioned to day shift without sleep and we drove the Denali Highway, hiked to the Thayer Hut, and spent two nights enjoying the wonderful weather and amazing aurora.
Second-to-last night of paving
Mount Hayes, from the southwest
Mount Hayes, from the southeast
From the south: the darker Item Peak tops out on the right side of the ridge with rocks jutting out of the snow; the lighter Mount Silvertip is the high peak behind it
Item Peak, from the south. My misadventure lower down along this ridge can be found here.
Fels Glacier Valley: Snow White from North-West (Richardson Highway)
In the past, I have taken far too many photos of the Castner Valley; I did not take many on the journey up. Phoenix and I reached the Fin and descended to the north to gain access to the glacier. We reached the Confluence by dark, refilled our water, and made slow progress towards the hut as we navigated crevasses and ice bridges in the dark. We reached a drainage that descends from the hut plateau and followed it up, reaching the hut after midnight.
Moraine hiking is awful; silt and rocks are precariously balanced on melting ice, so the terrain is constantly changing and settling.
Phoenix and Kiro; Old Snowy and Blackcap above and to her left on the skyline
Old Snowy, just the tip, from the South-West
Blackcap; Galen’s and my adventure on that peak can be found here.
Triangle Peak, summit ridge on the left. The Death Cornice that forms every winter is still hanging onto the summit
Phoenix; Blackcap and Triangle visible to her left
Found the perfect watering hole for my AMH bottle
The next day I woke up at 2PM and we hung out in the sun all day. Kiro played whack-a-mole with the local critters, with a 0% catch rate.
White Princess Branch, M’Ladies Branch of the Castner Confluence, September 3rd, 2016
Zoomed in view of the M’Ladies Branch (upper)meeting the White Princess Branch (lower)
Upper M’Ladies Branch
Triangle Peak, from the North
Kiro, with Item Peak to his left and Silvertip above
Upper Silvertip Branch
Item Peak from the East
Silvertip, from the South-East. Here’s the view from the top (warning: 100mb photo).
Confluence; the broken and hilly Silvertip Branch moraine takes up most of the bottom half of the photo, right side. Some bare ice can still be seen.
M’Ladies Peak, from the North-West
On the ridge: directly above the Thayer Hut is Sunday Summit
Triangle Peak, North ridge. My report on attempting this ridge can be found here.
From the overlook; scree below drops off to cliffs
This and the next few photos pan up the White Princess Branch
Zoomed out a bit
Zoomed back in for the corner
NEVER cut this corner when traveling up the glacier in the winter!
Up and to the left from the last photo: The O’brien icefall, which connects the Silvertip Icefield with the Castner Glacier, is quickly melting. There area few ridges between where this photo was taken and the ice, not all of it can be seen.
M’Ladies Peak (left), Peak 8010 (right)
Phoenix, Kiro, Thayer Hut, Silvertip
Triangle Peak, the sun has moved through the day giving a different view of the ridge
The snow reveals the north ridge of Triangle Peak
Kiro and M’Ladies Peak
Kiro on a crowberry bush
This is Broken Glacier, as seen from the bottom of the valley on our hike up
The most crevassed section of the Castner, we gained access to the hut by weaving through the crevasses on the lower right side of the photo.
White Princess Branch corner
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Left to right: M’Ladies, 8010, Triangle, Broken Glacier
The full north ridge of Triangle, the summit ridge lit by sunlight
8010, M’Ladies Branch
Thayer Hut, Blackcap visible above the skyline ridge
Home for another night
We watched amazing aurora with some unexpected but delightful company that evening. We didn’t figure anyone else would want to make the 8 mile journey out to the hut! It was certainly the right place to be, the aurora filled the sky. When we awoke around noon, the clouds preceding a storm had rolled in and it was time to go.
Photo Credit: Clay Beethe. His Instagram where I got this photo is located here.
Clay and friends met us Saturday night; we hung out and watched the aurora before hiking out on Sunday
The hut plateau is not visible from the lower part of the glacier; it is vaguely discernible below the mountain (Mary’s Rock) on the left, below the darker patch of rock and well above the red, apartment-sized rock.
A view up-glacier at the O’brien icefall
M’Ladies Branch, M’Ladies Peak
Original Stan Justice map of the Deltas