28-Jul-2007 -- I was sent to Alaska to do work for my geophysical company, and I had about 10 days off before the work was to start. So, naturally, I thought about confluence hunting. I had been aware for some time that the highest confluence in North America was near the summit of Mt. Wrangell, Alaska.
Mt. Wrangell is a giant, glacier-capped volcano that is currently active, having had an eruption about 100 years ago. It has a very broad, flat summit that is basically all glacier. The confluence point is only a few hundred meters from the actual summit. It is part of a broader range of mountains called the Wrangell/St. Elias Range that is enclosed in one of the largest national parks (which goes by the same name) in North America.
When I arrived in Anchorage I did some research on how to climb Mt. Wrangell. It turns out that in order to climb most of the Wrangell/St. Elias peaks, most people fly a ski-plane from a small town called Kennicott/McCarthy. The plane lands on the glaciers from where people trek in.
It turned out that my 10 days were not quite enough to do this expedition. Also it would have been $450-600 to fly to the peak, plus that same amount for the ticket for the guide (helpful if you are alone, as I was, or to help you get across the many weakened crevasse ice bridges!). That price, plus guide fees and equipment rental, and you really see how it could add up. I have discovered another novel option for reaching the summit that I might explore on my next attempt.
I ended up renting a car and taking a road/camping trip with two friends, Ami from Olympia, Washington, and Alfonso from Cuernavaca, Mexico. From Denali National Park we drove to Glenallen where we dropped off Alfonso. Ami and I continued on to our closest approach to the confluence, the Glenallen/Seward highway where we got to about 50 km from the confluence. Afterward we spent a few days in and around Kennicott/McCarthy.