Powerline Pass is a staple thoroughfare in the Chugach Front Range and offers access to an array of scenic hikes and peaks. The trail starts at Glen Alps parking lot and borders the north aspect of a ridge of mountains arising from Flat Top and terminating at Ptarmigan Peak roughly 5 miles to the east. There are a series of peaks between these two points, the first called Peak 2 and the second is Peak 3 (the remainder are jokingly referred to as Peak 4, 4.5, 5, 6 and so on). The last summit prior to Ptarmigan is Flake Top.
Cruising out toward Powerline Pass (Ptarmagin Peak in the distance on the right)
On Friday evening, we set out around 6 pm, a generous, hot sun hung high in the sky overhead. We trotted at a good clip down Powerline pass for several miles to the base of Ptarmigan Peak. A small trail rises onto the mossy tundra and pitches upward toward a high plateau one third the way up the mountain. The climbing is steep but the footing is good and very attainable. The dogs zig-zagged across the face, chasing birds and ground squirrels while we leaned into our quads and dieseled up the climb. A high plateau greeted us at the crest of the mountain face and gave way to a partially frozen pool of crystal clear snowmelt.
The obligatory frigid plunge
After wiggling into dry socks, we turned and ascended to Flake Top and traced the ridge back toward Peak 2. Between the goats and mountain sheep, an informal trail has formed allowing nimble feet to move quite quickly from high point to high point along the ridge. On the way out, Lars had spotted a long snowfield on the north aspect of Peak 2 which would serve as our exit strategy. We paused briefly on the summit of Peak 3 to enjoy the fantastic view and picked our way to the beginning of the snow.
The Cook Inlet from Peak 3
Glissading is a finicky art. It requires good leg and core strength, balance and touch of bravery. Once committed, aborting is a very difficult task and often leads to a rocky and rugged dismount. This time of year, most north facing snowfields are in prime condition for glissading. It is important to make a contingency plan if you fall and ensure the “landing” is relatively soft. A good snow field is the best short-cut in the mountains.
Glissading warm-up video: glissades
We jumped in and slid to the valley floor. After cleaning chunks of ice from our shoes we headed home, only to be stopped a quarter mile from the parking lot by enormous bull moose in full velvet. What a remarkable place our bag yard is!