Ascent of Sinclair Mountain on 2001-07-20

Climber: Ben Still

Date:Friday, July 20, 2001
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Boat
Peak:Sinclair Mountain
    Elevation:6800 ft / 2072 m

Ascent Trip Report

An excellent climb with my good friend Mike Miller and Gary our boat driver.

photos at the link below:

We left Juneau, AK heading north on Lynn Canal with Mike's boat the "Nunatak", a 20' fiber form boat, with the intention of climbing Sinclair Mountain, an incredible granite spire rising 6800' nearly straight out of Lynn Canal. Our friend Gary dropped us off on the east side of Lynn Canal just south of Yeldagalga Creek. We organized our packs and quickly made the decision we are going light and stashed all of our overnight gear in the woods along the shore. We started moving around 12 noon on a beautiful sunny day.

The bushwhack was not bad following Yeldagalga Creek up through steep moss covered hemlock and spruce forests. AS the valley leveled out the bushes got thick and we were shwacking pretty good. Just before the valley splits large muskeg meadows open up and make for easy travel for a mile or so. We took SE fork of Yeldagalga Creek continuing along the meadows. The meadows ended in a nearly impenetrable wall of alders, devils club, stinging nettles, salmon berry bushes, and giant boulders with covered in slick moss with knee deep holes in between. Not the best combo. We slowed to a crawl as the wounds added up. We eventually ended up in the knee to waist deep swift glacially fed Yeldagalga Creek. We found the current was easier to battle then the brush. After 5-10 minutes in the creek we would have to submit to the brush again to warm up as our lips would turn blue and legs would be so numb we could barely walk. At about 1900' the alders ended and we found ourselves stomping up a large snow slope of old avalanche and icefall debris. We stayed as far left as we could to avoid any exposure from the looming seracs above.

Beautiful heather covered slopes awaited us above on the SW slopes of Sinclair Mountain. We continued up these slopes negotiating several cliffs between 4000' and 4500' which would be interesting coming back down. Although not shown on the map a small pocket glacier exists between 5500' and 6000'. We roped up here and put our crampons on as blue was exposed in areas. Luckily this was not steep. The moat between the ice and rock was easily stepped over and we scrambled up a short distance until the climbing became very exposed and steep. We roped up and I led up a 5.6 pitch of rock followed by another steep fourth class pitch. We unroped for the final two hundred feet of 3rd-4th class climbing. We made it to the summit at 10pm. This rarely visited summit offered amazing views of the sharp surrounding granite towers and giant snowy peaks of the Fairweather and Boundary Ranges.

We took in everything briefly knowing we need to at least get the rappels done before it gets dark. We downclimbed all the way down to the 5.6 pitch and put a sling around a horn and rappelled down. We quickly negotiated the rest of the rock and re-dawned our crampons for the glacier. We continued down the slopes to the tricky cliffs and made it through this section just as full on darkness set in. We continued down the snow slope and stopped right at the alder line for a brief legs in the backpack bivy to wait out the darkness at midnight.

After about 4 hours of chilly shivering dawn was upon us and we crashed through the brush for awhile to warm up before getting back into the creek for the super cold decent. We made great time running down the creek and were quickly back in the meadows. We schwacked the remaining distance back to the beach by 8am. As we parted the brush and walked out onto the rock cliffy beach a humpback whale shot out of the ocean like an atomic submarine. Awesome sight! The crash of the whale breaching echoed off the rocky shore.

16 hours of moving time plus a 4 hour bivy. Had we started a few hours earlier we could have potentially finished in one day, but the boat ride from Juneau makes that a little hard. We eventually caught Gary on the marine radio and he stopped fishing and came and picked us up. An awesome very successful climb of a prominent granite tower along Lynn Canal.

Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:6800 ft / 2072 m
    Trailhead:0 ft / 0 m
    Route Conditions:
Bushwhack, Stream Ford, Exposed Scramble, Rock Climb, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Bivouac
    Nights Spent:1 nights away from roads
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear

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