WI3+ M3-4 Steep Snow
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BETA PHOTO: The North face of Ptarmigan Peak from the trail. S...
Ski Tracks is one of the only routes on Ptarmigan that is not immensely technical. That being said, it is still difficult. There is considerable route finding, avalanche danger and challenging mixed terrain to fight through during a short Alaskan winter day.
Start at a small alcove to climb directly up past a few pins on moderate mixed. Traverse right for several hundred feet, finding occasional fixed gear. The traversing ramp widens to a small snow bowl and continues an upward traverse to an obvious left facing, slabby dihedral. Continue to a steep mixed chimney/gully which takes good gear and the occasional screw.
As you exit out of the chimney, wrap up and right, climbing more moderate mixed rock and use a body belay to belay the second on a small, protected mound.
The next section can be very avalanche prone. Assess conditions and continue up and slightly right to a big wall. Belay here and traverse left to a small drop off. Go straight up an obvious steep mixed chimney (crux). Gear can be sparse for the first moves off the snow and a fall would be nasty. Climb up this feature for 120+ feet and belay where able.
Continue up more steep snow, possibly using running belays. Eventually you will reach a big sheet of ice that may be thick or thin. Climb up and angle right, searching for an obvious exit point with fixed anchors. From here, it is possible to unrope and scramble to the summit.
Summit Ptarmigan Peak and descend the couloir, or summit and drop down the south side, angling down and right (west) to Ptarmigan Pass. Wrap around the pass and do a traversing angle back to the base of the route on the north side (the descent should take less than 1.5 hours).
A selection of cams (small to medium), nuts, 6 ice screws, several specters and perhaps a picket or two if that's your thing.
Nearing the top of Ski Tracks. Photo by Colin Hale...
Colin Haley on an ice pitch on Ski Tracks
Scotty Vincik leading the slabby, left facing corn...
Colin Haley on a high traverse on Ski Tracks
Colin Haley leading a steep ice pitch on Ski Track...
Scotty getting blasted on Ski Tracks
Route topo courtesy of Eddie Phay at www.CragAlask...