Local hardman Richard Baranow (a.k.a. Mr. Chugach) called me up one weekday and asked me if I would like to join him on a weekend climb into the Dishwater Creek Drainage in the North Fork of Eagle River. The area had been on my mind for quite a while and I knew the climbing potential was very good.
On an early April weekend, Richard Baranow, Andy Hoyt, my good friend Steve Sinor and I headed out for a three night stay. The aim for this trip was both reconnaissance and obviously a little climbing.
A large bear had just passed, but we didn't see him
Richard's awesome dogs Kaupo and Nene both helped carry in some weight
Looking down the valley towards Eagle Peak
Looking up the valley at Kiliak Peak
The hike in was easy, mostly painless. Compared to the next valley over, Icicle Creek, it was a cakewalk. As we moved into our snowcave camp, the sun dropped below the jagged horizon and alpenglow filled the sky.
The two pairs split up in the morning and forayed on our own respective climbs. Steve and I climbed up a steep snow couloir with several easy rock steps. About 800' up the couloir was a beautiful unclimbed 60m ice line. Steve let me hop on the lead and I graciously accepted.
The ice was pretty solid, but had a few rotten pockets. The going was mostly cruiser WI3 with one vertical 15' section. Steve followed up, then we rapped off a v-thread. Two more rappels got us down to lower angled downclimbing.
We named the route Shimmering Bliss.
The next morning we hopped on a previously established line, put up by Wayne Todd and Corey Hinds. Richard and Andy had made the second ascent the day before. Steve and I had to hike out that day, so we just climbed a variation of the first pitch, fun and thin WI4.
Shimmering Bliss is in the upper left. The initial couloir is not visible. The Hinds-Todd route follows up the initial ice pitch on the right and continues up a couloir to another ice smear
Richard convinced me to leave my stuff there so I had no choice but to return and climb again. After careful consideration, I listened. The light backpack was nice on the hike out, but the fear of not getting back up in time to get my stuff was nerve racking.