The Skolai Valley and Chitistone Pass and Canyon

The Wrangell/St. Elias National Park backcountry

This was the core and main goal of this entire trip: a week in the backcountry of the largest national park. I was flown in and flown out and saw nobody in between, except for the siteseeing planes flying above.

The Skolai Valley is probably one of the most popular backcountry locales in the park, and supposedly sees the most traffic. Maybe that says something since I saw nobody. In fact, a group of four backpackers flew in with me, but while I camped near where we were dropped off, they walked to a different part of the valley and I never saw them again.

While I had intended to walk to a different place and be picked up there, the lousy weather and my health combined to convince me to turn back and return to the Skolai Valley. Although I had not brought a satellite phone with which to call my bush pilot, the relative popularity of the area convinced me that if he didn't see that I had returned on one of his flightseeing trips (he did), this is the first place he would check for me if I wasn't where I had originally planned to be. Nonetheless, in any future trip like this one, I will rent a sat phone, just so that I can stay in touch and keep my plans flexible.

The Nizina River, on the flight in to the Skolai Valley.

Icebergs in the Nizina River.

Skolai Valley landing strip.

Skolai Valley.

My Skolai Valley campsite.

caribou above Skolai Valley - on my first afternoon in the area!

The Russell Glacier and Mt. Sulzer are a backdrop for caribou.

Hole-in-the-Wall Glacier.

Unnamed glacier near Chitistone Pass.

Skolai tundra.

Hole-in-the-Wall Glacier.

Near Chitistone Pass.

Chitistone Pass.

Camp on Chitistone Pass.

Caribou on Chitistone Pass.

Sunset on Chitistone Pass.

Chitistone Canyon.

Tundra in Chitistone Canyon.

Chitistone tundra.

Looking towards Chitistone Gorge.

The Goat Trail area, near where I turned back.

Upper Chitistone Canyon camp.

Caribou on Chitistone Pass.

Mt. Sulzer from Skolai Valley.

Nizina Glacier, on the flight out.

Nizina and Rohn Glaciers.

Nizina Glacier crevasses.

Nizina Lake and icebergs.

Mile High Cliffs.

Cessna instrumentation.

Mile High Cliffs.

Waterfall on the Mile High Cliffs.

Mile High drainage.

Continue on to the southern Talkeetna Mountains.