Mount Ripinsky

June 20, 2018


Haines, AK

Mt. Ripinsky rises directly above the small town of Haines in south-eastern Alaska and is famous for the far-reaching views on a clear day. The peak is also known as Mt. Ripinski on the topographic map (CalTopo) as well as various other sources, but it seems like the locals (info center and trail signs) use the name with “y” instead of “i” at the end of spelling. The ascent of Mt. Ripinsky is nothing fancier than a short hike and the trails are well-maintained. Eric, Greg and I ascended it while waiting for our window to fly onto Grand Plateau Glacier of Mt. Fairweather. We were supposed to be on the glacier already but the pilot couldn’t land due to soft snow conditions. To not waste a sunny day in Alaska we might as well put our energy in use, despite the toasty temperatures.

Mt. Ripinsky hiking route. GPX DL

There are several trail-heads and we decided to head for the most popular one on the far east side of the mountain. Too bad we didn’t own a car in Haines and that added a couple extra kilometers into the hike. Eric and Greg proposed we might as well descend first to touch the water just so we could claim an ascent from sea level. Sounds fun. Why not… The rest of the road walk to the start of Skyline Trail was uneventful but very boring. The first few hundred meters of the ascent was also quite boring with nothing but trees to see. Because I left a lot of the gears in Drake’s hanger I had to find a tree branch as a trekking pole. I did find one and was happy about that.

Greg leading the way. Note the wooden staircases

Soldiers marching up.

As much as we could see in the forest. It was a grunt…

After what seemed like a long while we broke out of the forest and were treated by some incredible views of the rugged peaks and fjords. This was my first time hiking in Alaska and I was very excited to get higher and see more. There’s more ups than I was expecting including a few steep rolls that required some brief scrambling.

Breaking through the woods now. We could see the upper mountain

I loved this treeline meadows.

Greg hiking up.

The trail was very well constructed. The locals must love here

Taking a break with Haines below us

This is looking across Chilkoot Inlet into Taiya Inlet and Skagaway

Nice and easy stroll. We took our time to soak in the views

Eventually the terrain levels out but I was disappointed to see another bump down along the ridge that appeared higher. I didn’t bring my GPS to this trip but I’m sure the other summit is the true peak so we had to keep going. At least the traverse was scenic and we also found a patch of snow to fill up the water bottles. It was super duper hot and I thought we were hiking in Arizona instead of Alaska… We lingered a long while on the summit.

Ahead is a steep rise but only the false summit

Summit Panorama from Mt. Ripinsky. Click to view large size.

The water in the foreground must be Chilkoot Lake

Just one of the many unnamed peaks surrounding us.

Mt. Emmerich across Chilkat River

Chilkat River and its muddy colours

This is a southern view down Chilkat Inlet towards Juneau area

Another group made the summit. Tukgahgo Mountain behind

Just another set of unnamed peaks west of Chilkat Inlet

Sinclair Mountain in the background

Me on the summit of Mt. Ripinsky

Another shot of me on the summit of Mt. Ripinsky

On the descent we initially retraced our route but then went off down Piedad Trail just to explore things out a bit. This was an unfortunate decision as the trail descends into some very steep forest and my knees weren’t happy about it. The mosquitoes were also worse in this part of the forest and I got bitten pretty badly (too lazy to stop and apply repellents). After joining the roads we had no further issue walking back to our motel.

Eric hiking down the upper mountain

Chilkat River and Chilkat Inlet

Looking back towards the false summit. Note Greg on snow

Eric with Chilkoot Inlet behind

A close-up shot of Eric descending the alpine meadows

Into the forest now. It’s going to be steep…

Almost done but still had a couple miles of road walking.

All in all I would highly recommend Mt. Ripinsky if you have half a day to kill in Haines along with good weather. The view is something one would not easily forget and it’s a nice introductory hike to the Alaska Panhandle.