June 30 - July 2, 2022
From the Delta Range, I headed toward McCarthy and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Since the conception of this whole Alaska/Yukon adventure, I’ve been very cognizant of grizzly bears and other serious risks associated with backcountry travel in this part of the world. No matter how competent one is, more time spent in the backcountry equates higher risk. With this in mind, I decided ahead of time which areas were worth it to me to explore. One of those was Donoho Peak in the Wrangell Mountains. Equipped with beta from my friend Kelly who works as a guide out of McCarthy, I hopped on the shuttle to Kennicott with Katie and Isaac who I’d just met and happened to be doing the same route. Normally I would have preferred doing this solo but was happy to have company especially for bear risk mitigation. We set out from Kennicott in the late afternoon and walked across the Root Glacier as a storm was approaching. Once on the other side of the glacier, my new friends wanted to stop and spend the night. I wanted to just go climb Donoho that night and spend two nights on the summit but figured it would be safer to wait until morning and walk through the forested area between there and the mountain with them. In the morning, we encountered a 20-person group going the same direction and happily tagged along behind. The perfect bear blasters! I started climbing the peak around 1pm while Katie and Isaac stayed behind for another day. The peak was a heinous choss pile but free of bears, which I considered to be a major upgrade. After slogging up the main scree chute, I reached the saddle around 5pm and took a nap since sunset wasn’t for another six hours. After my nap I scrambled a few minutes up to the summit where I spent the night. It never really got dark, so I had awesome light from about 10pm to 5am. Smoldering pink streaks and a sliver of moon occupied the softly glowing sky all night. Three mountain ranges are visible from the summit of Donoho Peak: the Wrangell Mountains, Saint Elias Mountains, and Chugach Mountains. Particularly striking is the Kennicott Glacier originating from the hulking southeast face of 16,391’ Mount Blackburn. Way off in the distance I could see Mount Saint Elias clearly reigning supreme with Mount Logan over its namesake range. It was an unexpected gift to see Mount Saint Elias again after communing with it from the ocean a month before. The only sounds were distant rushes of wind and occasional rumbles on the icefalls. I tried to take full advantage of my temporary residence up here, shooting in all directions as the light slowly changed. I slept for about an hour with an alarm set for the 4am sunrise. After shooting sunrise I slept a few more hours and started heading back down. I was motivated to move fairly quickly since the last shuttle back to McCarthy left Kennecott at 7pm. After descending lots of choss, shouting at any grizzly bears in the vicinity to kindly fuck off, and a really fun walk across the Root Glacier, I made it back to Kennicott in time to catch the shuttle. I slept soundly and hung out in McCarthy the next day (where I discovered an outhouse with a lot of personality – see below) before driving out.