P6620, “Lava Mountain,” Talkeetna Mountains. This nondescript peak, located northeast of Granite Peak in the Matanuska Valley, was one of those ever scarcer virgin mountains close to the highway on which a weekend assault can be planned. Vin Hoeman’s Alaska Mountain Guide draft recommends the southwest ridge as a reasonable route and I decided to check this out. During three weekends in March and April I labored up this ridge, after an approach through enchanting Granite Creek Valley, getting farther up each time. On the last attempt, assuming that I had the summit in the bag after I climbed a steep wall, I was stopped by an interminable series of horrible sharktooth gendarmes, which were too much for a woman solo climber without large amounts of aid. It was necessary to look for another route. Encouraged by map contours I selected to try Lava Mountain’s southeast face and approached from the east on a later weekend, backpacking along King Creek and Young Creek. I reached the summit on May 10 after a strenuous but not very technical climb. The avalanche activity that day was extremely high.
Grace Hoeman, M.D.