Monday, September 3, 2012

8/2-4/12 Ram Valley to Peters Creek & Rumble Attempt

I've had Mount Rumble on my list for a couple years now. It's an impressively massive peak when viewed from the Parks Highway in Houston. I noticed the Anchorage Adventurers had a trip planned for Rumble so I signed up. I hadn't hiked into upper Peters Creek either so this seemed like a good opportunity.

One reason I don't love hiking into Ram Valley is the questionable access from Prudhoe Bay Rd., and this year there have been two bear maulings nearby. I figured we had a big enough group so bears wouldn't be a problem. As we hiked up the valley, drizzle turned to rain and fog. The walking was easy in the trench on the East side of the glacier with all the extra snow this year; there little walking on the debris covering Ram Glacier. A couple of us climbed to the pass with ice axes, while the rest of the group walked a little further up the glacier to find some easy walking up snow. From the pass Kneely showed us sheep trails that traversed the mountainside avoiding horrendous walking on the rock glacier below. We continued to follow sheep trails down into the Peters Creek Valley. After crossing Peters Creek we found a nice camp spot. New snow had fallen above 5000 feet. After some searching I found a small sheltered cook spot to get out of the rain.

It stopped raining overnight and we got a little sun in the morning; clouds clung to the peaks though. We had enough visibility to begin climbing Rumble. I didn't feel like I was going to summit that day. The clouds were hanging out just above where the gully split. There was new snow a few hundred feet below this, which would make the scrambling dangerous above the gully. I also didn't realize how narrow and loose the upper gully was; too many people and me without a helmet. Instead of following the right fork Ed and I headed left up a large scree gully. The gully ended after 1500 feet where we met Kyong who had scrambled the whole ridge to that point. She's a mountain goat! We all headed down to where the gully split where I hung out to meet the folks who went up the correct gully. The report was loose and slippery with icicles on the bedrock scramble...a no go. This solidified my idea to only scramble up lower elevation peaks for the rest of the summer; it's just been cool and wet this summer for the rock to stay ice/snow free. On the way back to camp I found a bivy boulder complete with two rooms. Just look for large boulders towards the bas of Mount Rumble's SE Gully.

The next morning started off foggy, but the sun made an appearance briefly. I thought it might work out to climb Bee's Heaven. Alas the ceiling dropped and the mountains became obscured. We elected to continue hiking the 18 miles to the Peters Creek Trailhead. We followed the stream bed and made numerous crossings until the confluence of Wall Street Street Creek. Then it was walking through low brush until we found the Peters Creek trail. About the Peters Creek was described to a member in our group as "you can't see it, but you can feel it with your feet." That is a perfect description for the first ten miles. You can feel the compacted tread beneath the grass but often cannot see it. It's easy to lose where animals have laid down, matting the grass, because you can't feel it anymore and have to search a bit. After 11 hours we got to the trailhead.

 Ram Valley

 Bombardment Pass & Ram Glacier

 Trench next to the glacier.

 Bombardment Pass

 Don't go this way. Go a little further to find the easier route.
This is usually scree in normal snow years.

 Sheep trail leaving Bombardment Pass and traversing mountain sides to the NE.

 Upper Peters Creek Valley

 Shelter Rock


 Mount Rumble

 Here is the split in the gully. Go right here.

 Heading down the left gully.

 Really cool bivy boulder. There are two rooms in there!

 Dog in the fog.

 Mount Rumble

 Peters Creek

 "You can feel the trail with your feet."

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