At the head of the valley (roughly 8 miles), the route deviates to the left and rises roughly 3,000 feet over tundra and boulder fields. We bypassed the Mint Glacier Hut and cut straight to Backdoor Gap which was shrouded in dense fog. Near the crest of the pass, the boulders become quite unstable and care should be taken with this climb. The first climb ascending to Backdoor Gap
They allege that the views form the top the pass are remarkable, unfortunately the persistent fog obscured what must have been a jaw-dropping panorama. The descent was quite loose and slippery, however, we glisaded down several snow fields and glacial ice to reconvene on the valley floor.
The view from Backdoor Gap
From the base of the Penny Royal Glacier, the goal was to stay out of the thick brush and traverse hiker’s left toward the climb to the Snow Bird Hut. The route consisted of bushwhacking, bouldering, stream crossing, and swamp wallowing. There may be a trail but we didn’t find it. By now, we had passed the Bomber Hut and decided not to detour back to see the bomber wreckage. We turned for home and started the last climb to the Snowbird Glacier. The beautiful Snowbird Hut
The Snowbird Hut is perched atop the final pass and gates the entry to the Snowbird Glacier which stretches across the high plateau to the final descent. The glacier was tacky and fast moving. Little runnels of fresh water cut through the glacial ice and repleted our water stores. We descended on tired legs and crossed the dilapidated remnants of an old mine before joining the Reed Lakes trail. From there, it is an easy mile or two jog to the trail head for a quick dip in the stream, snacks from the cooler and a fresh change of clothes.