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sepultura

[TR] Unalaska Island, Alaska - 3/1/2010

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Trip: Unalaska Island, Alaska -

 

Date: 3/1/2010

 

Trip Report:

This could possibly be the first trip report from the Aleutian Islands. First of all it is extremely expensive to get out here and the weather is unpredictable and mostly horrible. Think Tierra del Fuego of the North. Most folks come up here to work and that consumes the better part of there time. Still there are a few of us fisherman who get out when ever we can, to ski or climb when conditions and work schedule allows. A handful of the local residents also get out for some fun whenever the weather gods are feeling generous.

Sea level on Unalaska Island is like stepping off the boat in the Cascades and being at 7000 feet. The only poor wind blown trees that reside here were planted, the rest is all scrub, heather and tundra. It is very stark and beautiful. It can dump several feet of powder in a few hours and turn to rime ice just as quick, what you were skiing on one day you are often frontpointing the next, it changes that quick.

Here are few pictures from This Great Land, could be the next Valdez. Or not.

 

 

 

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Gear Notes:

GoreTex or rubber

 

Approach Notes:

Boat or plane, then head up.

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I was on a crab boat up there in Jan of 83, trying not to get killed. But there were a few days when the clouds would part and the wind die down enough to see sublime mountains rearing their hoary heads, a child's drawing of a mountain. Enough to make me wish I had time, gear, and health; enough to quit the get rich quick plan and ditch the boat. As it was, the boat usually looked like that last picture. I finally ended that winter with pneumonia, my tail between my legs, bolting for N Idaho where the ground didn't move. Thanks for the reminder that beautiful country still awaits the bold!

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Hey there buddy!

 

Good to see that the Great White North is treating you well this season. Sounds like fishing is a bit slow so that means more time for the hills?

 

Stay safe, and we'll get out when you come back state side . ..

 

-JG

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Most of the peaks here only have numbers on the USGS, a few of the local named peaks that have provided lots of great skiing are Newhall, Wood, Ravensnest and Ski bowl north&south. Pyramid Peak is great mixed climb right outside town by its West flank. I have never done anything here other than day trips, so I have been limited by how far I can travel. The Schaler Range south of here looks awesome as does Makushin Volcano which I know has been skied a couple of times in recent years.

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sweet terrain,

Amazing how steep those slopes can be, and right off the beach.

 

Fishing from that harbor, I always figured there to be great skiing and overall adventure for someone who wasn't wasting their time pushing pots out at sea.

 

Though I never brought skis up there I often enjoyed the slope behind westward seafoods during offload. An hour of frontpointing then a 30 second luge/glissade with my raingear taped shut at the ankles and sleeves.

 

Are you a resident? I assume you are the other guy that climbed the periphery of Dutch Harbor ice with Roger while he offloaded?

 

good pics. thanks for refreshing the memories

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He's a resident .. .of Washington. But our mysterious AK rocker knows Roger . . Strong, if that's who yer talking about.

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Looks like the fishing season is off to a slow start; glad to see that you are keeping busy! Don't burn yourself out, I've got some good suffering planned for your return!

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I've flown to Dutch many times and always wanted to spend some time there to ski & climb. There are a couple 200-300 ft waterfalls to the NW of town out by Eider PT. Don't know how long it would take to get there but looked like a road within a mile or so of it. Looks a lot like Kodiak only more snow.

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Get that sledge out and bash the ice off that boat....I never crab fished but I did do some siene fishing in the SE by the waterfall area of Baranof Island...that area is amazing too. Alaska is just amazing. Need to go back! Looks like an awesome trip!

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Are there any good resources for learning about Aleutian weather/mountaineering? A number of skiers from down this-a-way are curious about favorable months up there.

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The most favorable months are probably April/May when the days are long and there is still enough snow down low to pull a sled if you are going deep into the interior.

Jeff Hancock and I did a couple of trips to Unimak Is in this fashion in late April/May. If you are going to ski the big volcanos you could go during the summer and possibly launch from a boat or charter plane(big $ in this area). Alaska: A Climbing Guide by Wood/Coombs has a chapter on South West AK. Kenai Float Planes out of Nelson Lagoon runs private charters in the area. And my Buddy Jeff Hancock out of Dutch Harbor provides support/logistics and guiding-aleutianadventure.com, his website also has some more pictures. Aleutian weather is always full of surprises. I am happy to answer any questions between fishing trips.

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Sepultra, I've spent some time in Dutch, too, but I don't recall hearing the names Ravensnest, Wood, or Ski Bowl. Where are those peaks? I have the USGS map of the area, so I might be able to determine the location of a peak if you were to specify the elevation.

 

I've never heard of anything in the Shaler Mountains being climbed or skied. Do you know of any climbs in that area?

 

My cousins climbed Makushin Volcano, but I've been too focused on working when I've been down that way.

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Most likely these names for these peaks are not "official", I believe the nautical charts refer to Pyramid Peak and Ballyhoo and possibly Newhall. I do not have the USGS chart with me on the boat at this time. Basically all the low peaks in close range of town have been skied and scrambled. Jeff at www.aleutianadventure.com would be happy to answer your questions about the Shalers, a couple of summers ago he and some buddies did a trip through the Shalers and bagged a few peaks. He could also look up some of the elevations you are requesting, I left my USGS at home unfortunatley. One of these days I am going to have to stay after the season and go do Makushin, its got a lot of glaciation for a 6000ft peak, looks great!

What did you do in Dutch? I have been coming up here for 23 years, perhaps we crossed.

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I've worked in Dutch as an environmental engineer - mostly property-transfer deals and pollution prevention and the like. Did some tail end work on the removal of the catapult fuel storage system in the middle of the taxiway in 1997 or 1998.

 

The USGS charts do mention Pyramid, Newhall, Ballyhoo, and Makushin, but not many other names.

 

I'll try contacting Jeff.

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Yeah thats where I get my info as well, plus public television out of Anchorage does a great maritime forecast that shows the systems coming in. When we went to Unimak Island we were actually able to get forecast out of Cold Bay with a VHF radio, so I would think that you could also get the VHF repeater forecast out of Dutch well into the interior of Unalaska.

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