The plan was to climb to Ahern Pass, descend the Ahern Glacier, and traverse the Ptarmigan goat trail over to the Ptarmigan tunnel (as seen on the video from last month). The glacier/snowfield was much more of a glacier than I had counted on, steep with a bad runout and at least a partial bergschrund. I didn’t fancy descending it without an axe.
So I went up and over Iceberg Notch instead. From the notch at 8000′, you descend 2k of vert down third class ledges and scree in well under a mile. A very cool scramble, and easy route finding: just follow the goat tracks and poop.
I saw bear number two hiking down to Many Glacier, a huge male Griz high up in a meadow, rooting around vigorously. Bears three through five where a momma Griz and two babies who crossed 70 feet behind me as I started up toward Swiftcurrent Pass. They were moving fast, and didn’t seem to pay me any notice. I was too surprised and awed to pull out the camera until it was too late. An opportunity lost, but very cool anyways.
I saw bear six as I started up the switchbacks to the pass. The mid-sized Griz had cut the switchbacks coming down, and ended up cliffed out below and in between two four person groups. Understandably, the bear freaked out a bit. I looked up to see the bear trotting down the trail in the direction he wanted to go, and a family of four in various stages of flight about 100 feet in front of it. The parents and daughter were moving just faster than a fast walk, the older son was in a full run well out in front. A bit of a difficult situation, but moving fastish to give the bear room seemed prudent. Once the Griz had room, he bailed quickly off into the bushes and disappeared. The family seemed a bit shaken when I passed them, but they’ll certainly have a good story to take home.
That Griz left evidence.