Fairbanks North Star Borough Highpoint Trip Report

Dates: July 26-27, 2005
Author: Bob Packard

John Mitchler and I met in Fairbanks, AK on July 26. We made our separate ways to Art Ward's house in Salcha, about 45 miles southeast of Fairbanks. Art Ward (awardalaska@yahoo.com; 907-488-1453) is a bush pilot familiar with the West Point area. I learned of him through a multi-step research effort with the aim of doing West Point.

In the evening Art flew John and me to a gravel strip on a side valley about 100 miles up the Salcha River from his home field strip in his bush plane fitted with tundra tires. John was left there while Art flew me to an even more primitive gravel, cobble, rock and brush strewn landing site 10 minutes away next to the Salcha River. While I set up tent Art went back for John and within an hour we were all together.

Next morning we crossed the Salcha River on foot, then crossed a tributary. Then there was about 500 feet of soft spongy tundra. After that, the surface got more solid and we followed game trail through bushes and trees. Finally solid rock above timber line.

Easy climb. Round trip was 9.5 hours. About 11 miles round trip with 4,000 feet of elevation gain.

Start of hike was at 2,200 feet, but there where some ups and downs on way to the summit. Views were fairly good but lessened by smoke from forest fires in that part of Alaska. Five foot cairn on the summit.

After waiting about an hour and a half after return for wind conditions allowing take off with one passenger, Art flew John back to the better strip and came back to retrieve me. After we were together at the better strip he flew us both back to his home strip (grass and gravel) in Salcha. We had been gone only 25 hours! We saw 3 moose from the plane as well as the Alaska Pipeline. John says he saw a bear. We saw two caribou on the hike.