Skolai Pass Basecamp
This is a popular trip I've been running for a number of years now. We fly in to Skolai Pass from McCarthy, and spend a week in the wilderness, wandering from one of the high alpine valley to the other. Recommended for folks looking for a backcountry adventure, but who are not wanting to carry a heavy backpack every day.
The dayhikes in this area are beyond limitless. I've probably spent more time than anyone exploring this area, and I still haven't scraped the surface off these hikes. We can hike north, toward the Frederika, north and west toward the Nizina, circumnavigate nearby Mt Baldwin, walking through Hole in the Wall. We also might cross the valley toward the east and ascend the subalpine ridge over there, and skirt the edges of Skolai Lake.
Probably the best option here is to move camp at least once, heading south toward the Russell Glacier, beyond Chitistone Pass. Spend a few days in that area, where we hike on a couple of different glaciers, get some fantastic, closeup views of Mount Bona and Mount Churchill, highest peaks in the University Range.
A trek down the Chitistone Valley and on to the Goat Trail is a good long, easy walk, following the route that would eventually lead to one of the various options for a destination on the Skolai - Wolverine backpacking route. There are numerous waterfalls, streams and creeks to enjoy along the way.
The walking here is mostly easy, with some varied terrain; most of it though is open easy tundra, and follows an old game trail. There are a few sections or rock fall and old glacial moraine, but nothing strenuous at all. It's a great place for a mild outing, but challenging enough to provide an adventure as well.
This trip is best done with at least one small backpack, from the far end of the valley, where we'll establish our basecamp. We'll do dayhikes and photography in the area, or simply sit back and soak up the view, if you'd prefer. Then hike back toward to the landing strip, where we'll spend a couple of days poking around Hole in the Wall and the north end of Skolai Pass, before flying back to McCarthy.
It's possible, of course, to just camp nearer the strip and do all dayhikes, but I really advise people to at least move away from the landing strip, just to allow other travellers some space as they come and go on their trips.
We travel from Anchorage to McCarthy, overnight in McCarthy and then fly in to the backcountry. A week in the Skolai Pass area and we fly back to McCarthy, show and eat, and then enjoy the afternoon relaxing in the slow-paced rustic town of McCarthy, or venture up to Kennicott and look at the historic copper mine Mill buildings and leftovers of this ghost town. We spend the night in McCarthy, and travel back to Anchorage on the final day.
Where are we?
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