Little O’Malley Peak, Anchorage : A view from 3258ft

March 16, 2016 at 3:50 pm (Alaska, Travel) (, )

The days are getting longer, maximum temperatures are hanging around the 40s and beautifully clear, blue skies promise spectacular views of Anchorage, so we head out to find some elevation.  Just south of the city, the Glen Alps trail head provides access to multiple, winding trails through Chugach State Park.   In winter, these trails are frequented by fat-bikers (to clarify, people riding fat bikes) and skiers, and a set of spikies will open up miles of good walking for the keen hiker.

We set out early, before it warms up enough to start melting snow.  Our path today takes us across the Powerline Trail (a wide, flat track that follows the powerlines down to Anchorage), before continuing on into the valley.  We look for footprints through the snow as we cross the valley meadow – wander too far from pre-worn tracks and you can find yourself sinking to your knees.  Crossing the bridge at the lowest point, we find South Fork Campbell Creek bubbling away, just visible through the gaps in the thick snowdrift.

As the elevation picks up, the track becomes clearer and we take the right hand fork heading towards a saddle in the ridge ahead.  To the left of the saddle is our destination, Little O’Malley Peak.  This is a challenging climb, despite the guidebook claims, a short throw necessitating inclines up to 45 degrees at the steepest points to reach a max. elevation of 3248ft.  There are avalanche zones along the climb, so this may not be doable all year round, but there hasn’t been enough snow for it to be an issue today.  If anything, the snow is probably preferable to the loose gravel that we tackled at Flattop.

Little OMalley - vegetation

We forge ahead to gain some momentum, digging our boots into the snow to create footholds, grabbing onto exposed rocks and shrubs and making like the dogs on all fours where required (they have no problem at all running loops around us).  A scramble over a final, rocky stretch takes us up to the top of the slope, from where the summit is a short walk across a flat, exposed ridge.  Awaiting us is an uninterrupted view of the city, Cook Inlet and magnificent Mt Susitna across the water.  We watch hikers in the valley below, just visible as moving spots, and para-gliders launching from Flattop on the opposite side. Behind us is an expanse of open, flat tundra known as the Football Field, now strikingly patterned by ice filling the tortuous gaps of the undulating plain.  A walk for a summer day perhaps.

Little OMalley - Summit

Little OMalley - View

Little OMalley - Football Field

Little OMalley - descent

Little OMalley - Descent2

There’s only one way down today.  We head back along the ridge, searching for a spot where the drop is not quite vertical.  Next time, we’ll bring sleds, but the mad ride down the mountain face is worth putting up with wet pats on the trek back to the carpark.

Little OMalley - Mt Susitna





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