Photo of the Month for June, 2010, is this photo of some folks hiking up at Hole in the Wall, near Skolai Pass, Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve. I love the sense of scale this photo gives for the peak in the background. This is one of the peaks known as the 7 fingers, glacier-capped outcroppings towering above the tundra. Hole in the Wall is a classic old glacial formation, and a great place to walk and explore; I’ve spend many a day wandering around on the moraine, awestruck at the magnificent jagged cliff faces soaring above me.
This trip was a few years ago, and we had a grand time. The weather was, as you see here, unbeatable, and we all enjoyed the week we spent in Skolai Pass. We camped on an open ridge above the pass, before heading south to Chitistone Pass, where we camped and enjoyed the scenery. From Chitistone Pass, we ventured down to Russell Glacier, over into Chitistone Valley, and checked out the Goat Trail. Then we made out way back along the floor of Skolai Pass.
The big boulders in the foreground are called erratics; a piece of rock that differs from the size and type of rock native to the area in which it rests. They’re moved into place, carried by glacial ice , and deposited when the ice retreats. Sometimes they’re moved hundreds of miles by advancing glaciers; at Hole in the Wall, they were moved a mile or so. But a number of these large boulders technically aren’t really erratics, as they have fallen from the cliffs above. Massive, some of them are the size of a small house. The geology here is incredible.
I’m looking forward to getting back up to Skolai Pass this summer; it’s just one of “those” places that I can go back to every year and love it. It’s kinda like going home each summer. Each trip brings both new vistas and intimate views of the nooks and crannies, the secrets of Skolai. At the same time, seeing the features like Hole in the Wall and Russell Glacier again is a welcome treat. I love it.
We’ll be up at Skolai mid july this year, and I can’t WAIT!