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Ascent of Knight Island High Point on 2017-06-25

Climber: Ben Still

Date:Sunday, June 25, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Knight Island High Point
    Location:USA-Alaska
    Elevation:3104 ft / 946 m

Ascent Trip Report

The highest peak on Knight Island is Peak 3104 and also happens to be the highest point on an island in Prince William Sound. Jon Cannon, Kathy Still and myself set out to climb this peak on June 25th, 2017. We were dropped off at the northern most part of Mummy Bay at 10:30am for a nice late start by Paul and Pika the dog, who was quite unhappy to not join us for this adventure. We started up a dry creek bed to the NNE which quickly chocked with brush so we stepped into the spruce forest and found a nice game trail that was easy to follow for a short distance in the open mossy forest. We hiked around several building sized boulders with small forests on their tops before breaking out into an avalanche chute. Old hard snow blanketed part of this chute before transitioning into thick salmon berry bushes. We detoured to the creek and were able to easily walk up the side of the stream until a large waterfall impeded our progress. We crashed through a little brush and entered back into the forest in ever steepening terrain.

The forest quickly steepened and after 700 vertical feet we started climbing over small mossy cliffs using roots and small trees to pull us up. Not too long after this we ended up pinned between a waterfall and gorge to our left and a large cliff to our right with an interesting route straight up over a series of small cliffs with a final 15-foot headwall. We took the rope out and set up a belay. I climbed out slinging the occasional tree for protection and quickly reaching the base of the headwall. The headwall turned out to be pretty easy climbing, but trust in large clumps of moss and a couple of fern handholds made the climbing spicier.
Once over this obstacle we broke out of the forest into nice subalpine meadows at 900 feet. Time for a snack break, I ate a nice slice of avalanche pizza. While snacking I couldn’t help, but look up at the imposing cliffs and gendarmes along the ridge we might be climbing. Looks knife edge I thought.

After snack break we continued up steep mellow terrain to a large boulder field and very fresh bear tracks in the snow. I am always happy when the bear tracks lead away from our route. We traversed through the giant boulders and continued up scree and snow to a steep snow gully that breaks the cliff band to access the ridge above. We all put our helmets on, took our ice axes out and Jon put on his katoola spikes for the steep snow.

Once reaching the top of the gully we were perched in a deep notch at 2350 feet. A similar snow gully dropped down the back side of this notch. Uninviting mossy chossy rock leads to the ridge crest. I think I see a reasonably easy route up the cliff, so we break out the climbing gear and get all set up to start the climb, but once I start up the rock I quickly back off realizing the rock quality is very poor and there really is not protection up this 80-foot cliff. We decide to descend down to the north side of the mountain and probe for greener pastures. At this point I was thinking this might be more of a recon trip for a future climb up this steep peak.

We all down climbed the steeper upper section of the gully and once the fall line was better and the angle slacked a little Jon glissade down while Kathy and I plunge stepped. We dropped about 400 feet vertical before traversing west around the north face along a broad snowy bench. Initially all I could see were large imposing rotten cliffs, but after a quarter mile of traversing a weakness presented itself. A little bit of chossy scrambling led to an exposed snow climb back up to the ridge near the summit. We couldn’t quite tell if the last bit of ridge would work out, but we would be close.

Nice heather ramps lead us above a cliff band and to the base of the snow climb. I kicked bomber steps up the slope and Kathy and Jon followed. After a couple hundred vertical feet of steep snow the angle lessens to a short section of horizontal, a short reprieve from the exposure below. The last section of snow we have to angle back over some of the exposure to gain the ridge crest. Not sure if there is a cornice I continue traversing along the steep snow to a rock outcrop where I can have a look over the edge. I scramble up and realize the ridge is a 20-foot-wide heather ramp. We still have some interesting ridge line ahead, but the ridge looks doable for the final 300 vertical feet to the summit.

After the heather ramp, the ridge becomes a narrow pile of large loose blocks some move when weighted. We all scramble along the ridge treading as lightly as possible. We continue up a few steep steps and connect a few ledges together along the final section of ridgeline. We crest onto the summit at 5pm and find a large flat area to enjoy the summit vistas. The highest point of rock is a nice exposed perch directly above Mummy Bay. The views are amazing, to the north are the rest of the rugged high peaks of Knight Island, the east is Montague Island and its long-rugged ridgeline, to the south are many more islands and fun peaks and the west is a great view onto the Sargent Icefield. An excellent summit, we built a small cairn to conceal the summit register we brought. We dubbed the peak High Knight Peak although this peak is only 3104 feet high, it is a very rugged peak.

After lingering on the summit for a while we begin the descent down the ridge. Once back to the 20-foot-wide heather ramp I decide to have a look down ridge and find easy going. Steeper heather and talus slopes lead down to easier snow that connects back to our route below bypassing the steep exposed snow sections. We all agree it looks good and we find the new ways is on much easier terrain and make it back to our traverse quickly. We huff and puff back up to the notch and follow our route of ascent back to the beach making one rappel in the trees. Paul and Pika are waiting for us as we arrive at the beach at 9:30pm.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:4104 ft / 1250 m
    Extra Gain:500 ft / 152 m
    Trailhead:0 ft / 0 m
    Route Conditions:
Open Country, Bushwhack, Scramble, Exposed Scramble, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe



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