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North Texas Outdoors Message Board › Wrangell-St. Elias National Park Backpack Trip Sept 4th-12th 2010

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park Backpack Trip Sept 4th-12th 2010

Johnny H.
user 10485579
Richardson, TX
Post #: 5

So we met last night with Tom and it was a small gathering to include myself, Melissa, Al, Tom and Kevin and discussed plans for two segments of our trip. If you have not already obtained the Falcon Guide, I'd recommend it seeing several of us are already using it to frame several aspects of the upcoming trip.­

Our focus for this trip are areas accessible via SUV etc, or road accessible trail heads. Two areas discussed were:

- the Dixie Pass area
- the Stairway Icefall/Erie Lake area

While we want a solid game plan for the trip, we also want to be agile enough to make changes there should we run into unforeseen issues with the areas we intend on visiting. (roads inaccessible or areas closed off)

The purpose of this thread is to begin discussions on:

- Area and trip planning (camp sites and locations)
- Equipment
- Group logistics (who is carrying what...Tom and I intend on renting Satellite phones for the trip, for example)
- Group Familiarization

While several of us have backpacked together, this is slightly different trip for a few of us and includes folks we may not have traveled with before. As a person who likes to have a "Plan"...I felt it prudent to begin a form of dialogue on this topic and get things rolling.

To begin, crampons! Yes, the plan seems to currently be we want to spent some time out at the icefalls and on the glacial and moraine. Crampons are not cheap for the most part. I'm unsure about renting options in Anchorage so my current plan is to buy Melissa and I a pair each. A friend who lives in Alaska also mentioned trying the Kahtoola MICROspikes Pocket Traction System, a cheaper alternative to actual crampons. These are available through both REI and Amazon. My plan is to purchase actual crampons allows us to visit more areas of the glacier and not become limited by equipment.

Three major items I'll be taking with me are:

- Satellite Phone
- PLB (Personal Locator Beacon or Spot unit)
- Handheld GPS

Well I hope this helps to kick things off. :)
A former member
Post #: 45
Hiking Routes­

Food Storage lockers for Kennecott Hiking­
If camping at these locations that have bear storage lockers, may not even need food container.

Food Containers: We will have to consider how these will fit into/on packs and foods that will pack best in order to get all food and smellables (trash, toothbrush/paste, etc) into them.

Crampons: The microspikes are liked by most. It seems a few have had breakage of some earlier pairs, but that was when they first came out. I'll either do that or a combination screw-shoe/four point instep crampon scenario ; ).

Communications: Are y'all taking two satellite phones then? For a PLB consider McMurdo FastFind 210. It would be nice to get an idea of how far cellular reception would be (closest town probably McCarthy)?

Safety Plan: http://files.meetup.c...­­

Shared Expense Gear: What gear is expected to be shared cost-wise? I would imagine at least the satellite phone (if finally decided upon) and bear spray.

Bear Safety: At least one can of bear spray for the group would be a good idea, expecting the group to stay together for this reason. After checking into this more, I see some recommending everyone in group carry their own spray. Check!
A former member
Post #: 46
The surface of the rather narrow McCarthy Road is gravel and, although graded periodically, can contain washboard and potholes. One should expect to cover the 60 miles, on average, in approximately 3 hours. Although most vehicles are adequate for the journey, those in excess of 24 feet in length are discouraged. Some car rental agencies disapprove of travel on the McCarthy Road. Stop by the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park visitor center (Mile 106.8 Richardson Highway, near Copper Center, 907-822-7250) for road updates. Please note that Chitina is your last opportunity for fuel and that there are no RV dump facilities along the McCarthy Road. A full-sized spare tire is always recommended.­
McKinney, TX
Post #: 5
Maps: We should lock-in the primary and alternate areas so we can purchase the required quad maps.

Fuel: Fuel can't be checked in so we'll need to purchase upon arrival. How about we put together a shopping list for the first group that arrives early? The list should have the brand, fuel type and amount.

Crampons: I've never hiked on glacier, so I'm erring on the side of caution by bringing a pair of 10-point steel crampons.

Bear Canisters: If you're planning to purchase a bear canister, REI has the BearVault BV500 on sale for $59.99. You won't be able to use the 20% coupon, but if you have a dividend it can be a good deal.

Water Filter/Purifier: Who's bringing one? I don't think everyone needs to have one. With our size group, we could get by with 3 or 4.
user 3468459
Newnan, GA
Post #: 33
I'll order maps from USGS for the Frontcountry Treks: Dixie Pass, Thompson Pass/Marshall Pass, Donoho Lakes, and Stairway Icefall/Erie Lake. Our itinerary will include a backpack at Dixie Pass or Thompson Pass/Marshall Pass, followed by another backpack at Donoho Lakes or Stairway Icefall/Erie Lake (these two hikes start at the same place). It's 7 maps. I'm ordering 2 sets, one for me and one for Al. If you'd like me to order you a set, let me know. .

Johnny H.
user 10485579
Richardson, TX
Post #: 6

I plan on shouldering the cost of Satellite phone rental entirely so I don’t expect any assistance. Charity however is always appreciated. LOL

Also, I plan on Melissa and both carrying bear spray. A friend who was park ranger there in Alaska for 25 years stated minimum this was advised. On another note, I intend on bringing a Marlin 1845 Guide Rifle. (pause for effect) No, that really isn’t a joke, utterly serious.

Melissa and I will both be carrying bear vaults, one for food, another for toiletry etc. I also carry my First Need water filtration system where ever I go so we at least have that. Its designed for 3rd world countries with very little potable water sources and is a bit heavier then most …but it works very well.


On maps, please order a set of seven for myself as well, I’ll cover the cost of course.
user 3468459
Newnan, GA
Post #: 34
We are going to need the bear canisters - required by Park Service. If you'd like, you can check them out from the Visitor Center for free (I'll be calling the park soon - you guys are anxious to get things rolling)!

Crampons, trekking poles, gloves, are all needed for travel on the lower valley glaciers that we will be exploring/crossing. Harnesses and ropes are not. It will definitely be one of the highlights of our trip! If anyone knows of a good deal on crampons, please post for others.

I thought that our meeting last night went well. We should have another get together in June with only the people who are going on this trip to discuss itinerary/equipment/clothing/other questions that we all may have.

Another note, in 2008, covered the McCarthy Road in 2.5 hours in a full size car.
user 3468459
Newnan, GA
Post #: 35
Frontcountry Treks

The Falcon Guide refers to backpacks that you can get to by road as "Frontcountry Treks" and remote fly-in access backpacks as "Backcountry Treks."
Irving, TX
Post #: 33
Crampons also need mountaineering boots , you wont be able to keep them stable on softer hiking boots ,


I got this one last year ,paid 179$, hv never used them so i m looking fwd to it. :), but look for them on this site they are usually for a good price here.

I got my crampons from backcountry last year but only paid 79 $ which looks like a really good deal.­

I also got the bear canister from rei which is on sale right now.

If you look around you may find a good deal on these equipments on discount sites like sierratradingpost or campmor , or ebay but figuring out your size is important. Like I am looking for an ice axe but dont know what size would fit me. I think whatever size nate finds comfortable should be good.

We will only use them if we plan on being on actual ice fields , they get quite heavy to have them in pack just for an off chance of finding ice on the trail.
A former member
Post #: 47
Then I'm taking my Barrett M107 dangit.

Also, I plan on Melissa and both carrying bear spray. A friend who was park ranger there in Alaska for 25 years stated minimum this was advised. On another note, I intend on bringing a Marlin 1845 Guide Rifle. (pause for effect) No, that really isn’t a joke, utterly serious.

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