A view up the Eagle River valley from the begining of our approach. Polar Bear Peak on the left and Eagle Peak on the right.
The access to the Ram Valley is a bit shady. You have to go through a block of private property to access the park . . . and though there is reportedly an easement trail, there are still some "No Hiking" signs posted. I also found this sign laying down along the trail, apparently put up by the property owners. I like the foot note where the "good guys" are defined as "3rd and 4th generation Alaskans". That's very important.
A view up the Ram Valley as we headed into the Falling Water Creek drainage. The peak in the middle of the photo, on the right side of Ram Valley, is Cumulous.
Jake headed up a morraine into the Falling Water Creek drainage. We started nice and early so the snow was very hard and made for great going.
A panorama of the first part of the Falling Water Creek drainage. This valley was recently glaciated and is pretty barren . . .
Finally getting close to our route. The wider couloir on the left is Raina's North Couloir . . . the narrower one on the right is the Northwest Couloir, which was our intended route.
Looking up from the base of the Northwest Couloir. Right at the point where the couloir first becomes narrow, there was a crux rock band.
We decided to belay through the initial rock band, here's Jake preparing to set off on lead.
Jake on lead nearing the rock band. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to get good protection in the rock and so he downclimbed and let me take a crack at it. I set a pretty solid picket about 10 feet below the rocks, and then found some good holds along the left side of the band . . . and since the option of retreat was so distasteful I managed to pull the moves and get us over the first crux.
This is steeper than it looks! Since we were already roped up, we decided to stay that way and do some simul climbing. The snow was steep, but we probably could have done it unprotected. Jake led us off on about 3+ rope lengths of simul climbing before he set up a belay about 1/3 of the way up the couloir, at a place where it branched left and right. The route goes left, but we decided to follow a tempting side couloir to the right. We didn't think it would get us to the summit, but thought it might be a shorter way to the summit ridge, and we were moving slower than expected.
I led up the right couloir, which we ended up simul climbing as it was about two rope lengths. This is a view looking down the right branching couloir from the summit ridge . . . Jake's belay is down out of site around a corner. It got nice and steep at the top.
Jake climbing up onto the top of the couloir on the summit ridge. I had looped the rope three times around this rock for our most bomber belay of the day. We were very happy to see a relatively gently sloped, snow-filled couloir leading down to Ram Valley.
View of Peeking Mountain from the top of our couloir.
Jake scrambling up to our high point, and a view of of Eagle River valley behind him.
Jake headed down towards Ram Valley . . . not far from here we startled a BIG brown bear sow with two little cubs . . . more excitement on the day.
Brown bear tracks in Ram Valley.
A view of the beautiful Polar Bear Peak from near the trailhead.
A topo map showing the approximate route of our hike/climb.