Murder Traverse
Saturday, August 11, 2012 at 01:18PM
Brian in Alaska Summer, Chugach, Race/Trip Reports, Suicide Peak, mmountain running

South Suicide (R) and North Suicide Peaks (L) Although I've had a good time sniffing around the Chugach on my own and finding fun objectives that regularly kick my ass, local beta is helpful for finding cool stuff. A new friend of mine who's been around awhile and regularly gets after it with equally ambitious characters gave me a fun idea recently that I completed a couple of weeks ago.The Murder Traverse, as he likes to call it, starts on the Turnagain Arm at Falls Creek, rapidly ascends some awesome alpine meadowed terrain and enchains South and North Suicide Peaks and Homicide Peak before dropping onto Powerline Pass. To the get back the car, the logical turn is east down the road to Indian. It's five straight forward miles. But it descends into some of the most bear infested Alaska jungle I've been in yet. To make matters worse, during one of my stops early in the day, I apparently dropped my bear spray, only realizing it hours later. Shit! I knew Powerline was going to suck but I had no idea how bad.

I was excited for this outing since it hit a few of the prominent peaks in the area. It was also a rare sunny day with no wind. I would dare say it was even, sorta, kinda… hot, at least by Alaska standards. Might've been pushing 70 degrees. Freakin' sweltering by our standards up here. Anyway, I parked at Falls Creek and ducked into the thick trees just beyond my bumper and was pleased to see the trail going straight up as promised. I love this shit. No screwing around with mellow approaches. Let's just go UP. Perfect. 

The forest was really beautiful at first, pretty wide open with less ground level vegetation due to the high canopy.

My bearanoid spidey sense was not tingling yet. The alders got thick soon enough and the rush of the creek next to the trail made me feel like I was traveling blind. I saw a few other folks so that helped keep the bears away, I hoped. I was soon out of the brush and cruising open ground.

Falls Creek drainageI gained a ridgeline to the east of South Suicide which added an additional summit to the usual route. It might've added 30 minutes. Looking back down Falls Creek toward the Arm

I found a snow patch where I added some volume to my quickly depleting bladder. Not much water up high, of course. The ridge across to S. Suicide was typical Chugach choss but not too loose. The decent off the first Suicide was annoying on soft ball sized talus that was tricky to navigate. After 20 minutes of this torture I was onto a worn trail taking me to Windy Pass above Rabbit Lake. It would have been an easy shot back to town from there. I had more to go, however.Rabbit Lake and Ptarmigan Peak

Looking back at South Suicide Peak above Windy PassNorth Suicide was straight forward from the Pass. Getting down was steeper and looser, requiring some careful route finding. The ridge line is more exposed which kept it interesting. Looking back at the descent off North Suicide Peak

Powerline Valley with Anchorage in the distanceOnce across it was an easy walk to the top of Homicide. Cool views of both Rabbit Valley and South Fork Campbell Creek (Powerline Valley) greeted me from the summit. A quick scramble to the north brought me to Powerline Pass.

Powerline Pass. 5 miles to the road.The going is wide open at first and the running easy down the machine road. But the descent starts in earnest once over the top and the alders close in. I've never seen so much bear shit in my life. I was clapping and yelling as much as possible. Better be preparedIt was the longest hour of my life, it seemed. I stopped counting at 25 piles of crap. It was a relief to get into the valley and onto the dirt road where I could let my guard down. I easily got a ride the 4 miles back to my car after only a few minutes of hitch hiking.

The traverse is worth doing again but I will never go back down that trail to Indian this time of year. The safer bet would be to head west from the pass and have a car waiting at Glen Alps trail head for the shuttle back to Falls Creek. That trail is far more open and more frequently traveled. You would lose less elevation, as well, making it an easier day on the legs.All told, it took me 5.5 hours to cover the 11 miles and 7,400 vertical feet. Highly recommended day out. - Brian

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