Wednesday, May 27, 2009

O'Malley Peak

yesterday i ran one of my favorite peaks in the front range of the Chugach, O'Malley. having hiked this peak several times i was quite familiar with the trail, but only having run small portions of it i was unsure how it would be as a full trail run. about an 8 mile round trip with 4,000 ft. of climbing it typically takes a day hiker 6-8 hours to complete. my goal was 4 hours. my constant trail companion, Jackson, was along for the run.we started off down the trail a little before noon. it was another gorgeous day in which temperatures would reach near 70˚. i had worn long sleeves thinking that it would offer sun protection as well as warmth if it were windy up high. the shirt was quickly shed on the first climb as the day heated up. legs burning i reached the saddle between Little and False O'Malley and began to run up the ballpark (the large bowl below the main peak).there was a bit of snow to negotiate at the saddle, and again on the lower reaches of the ballpark, but it was to be expected. from this vantage point i thought that leaving the ice ax at home was a mistake as it appeared that the up gully contained a lot of snow. (this wouldn't be the case though as the snow ribbons were easy to negotiate around.) the trail becomes more of a route after turning off at the top of the ballpark and heading up the gully. i pushed hard and reached the top of the gully in under 20 minutes, and 20 minutes after that was standing on the top of O'Malley.the view from the top is amazing as in one direction one sees Anchorage and beyond, and in the other the Chugach range stretches as far as the eye can see. looking down on the east side of the peak one sees sheer cliffs falling away for thousands of feet. Black Lake lies in the shadow of the peak and at this time of year is still mostly frozen and drifted over. it's mind blowing to think that in a couple of weeks the lake will be completely thawed and ready for a chilly mountain swim.
all in all it was an amazing day out. my watch died shortly after reaching the peak so on the way out i had no idea if i was on track for my 4 hour time or not. i pushed hard though, or at least as hard as my legs would let me. coming down the scree and the snow is always fun and easy on the 'ol knees. when i reached the car the clock showed my total time had been 3:04. that was total time so subtracting the 5 or so minutes I spent on top and refilling water bottles at the Campbell creek crossing (i ran out of water on the way back), i figure it was under a 3 hour run. i've got a little sunburn and a few scratches to show for was a blast.


  1. Per facebook:said feedback.

    Nicely done! I'm envious of your endurance - I think I'd be hard pressed to do flattop in 3 hours. Hopefully Jackson didn't wear you out too badly. Great pictures too. What's next, Pioneer Peak?

  2. it just takes doing it. i think everyone has it in them, just comes down to what you're used to. my best flattop time is 42 min. roundtrip. it's funny you would mention Pioneer as i was just talking about that tonight with a buddy. thanks for commenting.