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Ascent of Flattop Mountain on 2017-05-30

Climber: Dennis Stewart

Others in Party:Mitch Stewart
Kthan Graham
Date:Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Flattop Mountain
    Location:USA-Alaska
    Elevation:3510 ft / 1069 m

Ascent Trip Report

I was in Anchorage for a rare Stewart Family reunion and, while we were waiting for our land excursion to begin, we looked for area activities. Most members of the family enjoy vigorous recreational pursuits, so when someone found the Flattop Mountain climb during an Internet search it was an easy decision to make that our entertainment for the day. After reading a few late Spring trip reports on Peakbagger, I was concerned summit success was not realistic with snow and ice on a Class 2+ climb without safety gear or protection, however, we figured we would just go as high as we dared and enjoy the height we reached. We had awaken to a beautiful sunny day, but as we neared the parking area for the trailhead to Flattop Mountain, we were under clouds with the summit completely engulfed. The weather was not threating, however, so our group of six climbers started our adventure at 11:00 AM after paying the $5.00 parking fee. I became more and more optimistic as we climbed higher. There was very little snow and the trail was wide and well maintained. At the saddle between Blueberry Knoll and Flattop Mountain, the great ascent trail vanished into small snowfields and any exposed trail was mud covered. Three members of our group decided they didn't want to climb higher into the overcast weather with the added discomfort of the slippery trail due to snow and mud. The climb was not too difficult during this part of the ascent until about 100 feet from the summit. At this point the route was snow and ice covered. Progress was only possible because of exposed rocks poking up through the snow that allowed us to step from rock to rock as if we were crossing a river with stepping rocks, except for the steep grade we were on. It wasn't too bad except for the exposure. A slip there would have resulted in an uncontrolled slide of several hundred feet. Of course, as any experienced climber will testify, climbing up an exposed route is much easier than descending, so our return trip was far more scary than going up. We saw a lot of inexperienced climbers on this mountain with individuals in shorts and T-shirts with no gloves or hat, even on their small children! I am surprised there are not a lot of accidents on this mountain. Members of our group even found a man in a hypothermic state that they nursed back to a condition where he could descend! My group summited after a total of 1.75 hours of climbing, although we climbed quite slowly. Just as we reached the summit plateau, there was an American flag mounted on a pole and most people take their victory photo there, however, a few hundred feet to the southwest there is a mound that is noticeably higher. We hiked there and took our victory photo there before relaxing on the south side of the mound in the warm sun for 15 minutes. The GPS coordinates for Flattop Mountain on Peakbagger indicted that the summit was over 100 yards farther to the southwest, but there is nothing there any higher than the mound we were on, whose coordinates are: 61.08984 N 149.66919 W. After our successful ascent and enjoyable rest we made a safe descent back to the nice trail we hiked up on. I was the only member of our group who decided to bag Blueberry Knoll on the way down (see separate trip report) where the view of Flattop Mountain's north face is great. During the summer, our ascent route would be no greater than a medium Class 2 climb, but in the Spring with the ice and snow we experienced it was definitely in the Class 3 range.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Exposed Scramble



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