Monday, August 25, 2008

Snowbird Hut

The American Alpine Club recently purchased the Snowbird Hut adjacent to the Snowbird Glacier in the Talkeetna Mountains north-east of the Hatcher Pass area. It was built about 30 years ago as a ski hut, probably when the glacier was higher and closer. It forms a link on traverses through the range. Close by are the Bomber Glacier and the Mint Glacier.

Harry Hunt, the current AAC Alaska section chair, James Brady, and I teamed up with two architects, Mike Thompson, and Bill ?, to hike to the hut and evaluate the possibility of replacing it on a better foundation adjacent to the current structure. It was a rainy morning, cool and wet, but we headed up into the mist and clouds, turning left at the Snowbird mine cabin following the narrow vertical trail leading alongside the old mine cables to the snowbird mine. The route has a faint trail all the way, easy to lose in some spots, but it follows the obvious line up the bottom of the valley to a pass on the north side. We hiked up a prominent ridge to the right of the valley, and the views were spectacular. My poor camera was totally wet, so I didn't turn it on for photos...bummer! We toped over the pass where the glacier pours north, then hiked down the neve to the large red arrow on the right side of the lower glacier, hiked up the talus to the hut.

The Snowbird was in good shape, but suffers from years of heavy snows. It is insulated with white styrofoam, covered with a metal shell. It sits on a lattice-work of old boards on top of the talus, a ladder leading to the front door. Inside it's cozy with an oil stove (broken), and a 3-burner Coleman stove for cooking. James and Harry pore over the maps in the hut.

The architects found a nice new spot for the gabion foundation, we fired up the stove by pouring fuel into the carburator, had a bite of lunch and headed home. Time up was 2hr 50min, time down was 2hr 20min. Great day in the mountains with fine friends.

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