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Ascent to Marathon Mountain-Race Point-400 ft above "Junior Race Point" on 2014-09-11

Climber: Richard Hensley

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Thursday, September 11, 2014
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Point Reached:Marathon Mountain-Race Point - 400 ft above "Junior Race Point"
    Location:USA-Alaska
    Elevation:2016 ft / 614 m
    Remaining Elevation:1006 ft / 307 m (37% left to go)

Ascent Trip Report

Rain was forecasted by 1pm, and I wanted the Harding Icefield more, so I went there first. So at 330pm, I finished that hike of 10 miles and over 4000 ft of gain. The weather was still good, so at 510pm, I started up the Mt Marathon trail. Didn't expect to finish, but wanted to experience its more unique aspects, which are on the lower half anyway. There's a good sign at the bottom that shows the different routes on a large aerial photo of the course.
The first part is the best, called the Roots Trail. Climbing a cliff using only tree roots for hand & foot holds. Above the cliffs, keep taking the most direct route up the ridgeline. There's one fork to the left that appeared headed into the gulley; instead, stay straight up the steep dirt with the numerous bare tree limbs or roots just above the ground. This middle section of the "Up Trail" I think is the most difficult. Repeated stretches of very steep hard-packed dirt often without anything to grab on to. Thankfully it hadn't rained in at least a couple days.
At the top of the shrub line, the "Up" and "Down" trails cross over. Here, the surface changes from steep dirt to steep base rock with loose rocks on top. I had planned to turn around here, but decided to continue when I saw several guys still going up. But after several hundred more feet, they decided to turn around. I was now over 6000 ft of gain for the day, with another 1000 to go. This terrain I was more familiar with (maybe not this much consecutive), but I knew fatigue really increased my risk. It was now 6:30; I'd be the last one up there; clouds were darkening and heavy rain was forecasted, so there'd be no help tonight. (Seward got 3 inches overnight & next day). If only I had done this one first.
So I turned around to catch the guys going down. From the crossover, they went down the "Up" trail (much more difficult to descend). Comfortable on loose sandy scree, I took the "Down" trail into the gulley. I soon passed the guys struggling down the ridge. When I got to "the Gut", where the wide loose scree funnels into a narrow solid stream bed with small waterfalls, I decided to bail out of the gulley and back up onto the ridge with the other guys. I thought I was near the Jeep Trail, but still had some steep dirt to descend. Slipped once and slid 15 ft before stopping.
We finally reached the Upper Crossover to the Jeep Trail, and I took the leisurely route down to Monroe St, and walked back to the truck via 1st Ave and Lowell Canyon Rd.

MARATHON MTN
The famous Mt Marathon Race does not go to the top of Marathon Mtn. It only goes up to Race Point. The summit of Marathon Mtn is another 1800 ft up a sawtooth ridge. Be skeptical of any trip report to the summit of Marathon Mtn that does not include proof that they weren't on Race Point, i.e, detailed route description other than to Race Point, what they could see from the top, etc.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1961 ft / 597 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1961 ft / 597 m
    Round-Trip Distance:3.5 mi / 5.6 km
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Scramble
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Overcast
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1746 ft / 532 m
    Distance:1 mi / 1.6 km
    Route:Roots Tr, Runner's Up Tr
    Start Trailhead:gate on Lowell Cyn Rd  270 ft / 82 m
    Time:1 Hours 13 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1961 ft / 597 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 1746 ft / 532 m; Extra: 215 ft / 65m
    Gain on way out:215 ft / 65 m
    Distance:2.5 mi / 4 km
    Route:Runner's Down Tr, Jeep Tr
    End Trailhead:gate on Lowell Cyn Rd  270 ft / 82 m
    Time:56 Minutes



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