Unsuccesful attempt of Mt. Sanford in the Wrangell Mountains of Alaska. However, Fun ski trip in with lots of life returning for the spring everywhere.
Skied in from the Chistochina R. with a week of supplies starting May 6. Snow coverage was good but snow was getting very soft, slowing down the approach and making it significantly harder. On Day 3, we reached the toe of the Sheep Glacier. The fourth day started with sunny skies, and we began to ski up the glacier with the intent to make high camp at 10,000′. However, as we neared 9000′ on the mountain, we encountered persistent snowfall with increased winds. We knew a storm was on the way, and thinking it may be hitting early, we decided to bail. We had limited food, and with worsening conditions of the Boulder Creek approach, we expected the way out would take at least 3 days.
That evening we descended to the valley floor and stopped for water and dinner. The skies in the Copper R. Basin had cleared, and temps were falling fast. Around 1:00 AM, we began skiing back down Boulder creek, and before long, the snow had frozen into a bomber crust. Instead of the long 3-day trudge back out, we flew down the river on a bullet-proof crust. By 9:00 AM, we were back on the north side of the Copper River which had not broken up yet, thankfully. And an hour or two later, we were sitting in the parking lot by the car.
While we did not make the summit, it was a very enjoyable trip. The Copper basin was so full of life that was either waking up from the winter, or returning from down south. It was a special place to be. On the day we skied out, the summit of Sanford never did quite clear from the clouds, giving us peace of mind having bailed. A summit would have likely been possible that day, but it would have been in flat-light conditions. And the bonus of an effortless ski out compared to the way in made it a good decision.
I hope you enjoy the video!