Oro Grande

April 16, 2011

Seven of us traversed Mosquito Pass, made a left (westbound) turn on breathtaking Oro Grande Creek, went south on Glacial Lake, and returned to Nome on April 16, 2011. This was a beautiful trip, no mishaps, everything went perfect!



The Route

We left Nome, travelled up the Nome River valley, generally following the Kougarok Road, which is an easy do.
We then turned west onto the headwaters of the Sinuk River and followed to the entrance of Mosquito Pass. Using the route marked with red dots, we went north through most of Mosquito Pass, west on Oro Grande, south on Glacial Lake, and back east on the Sinuk to the Kougarok Road area.


Map Created by Ramon Gandia and gTopo/GIMP/Linux



Here is the Gang!

We have Bossiq Keller, Greg Smith, Henry Kakaruk, Derrick Leedy, Alma Smithhisler, Ramon Gandia, and taking the picture, Keith Andrews.
This snapshot was taken on my yard, which is a popular gathering place for all sorts of trips as it is located right on the edge of snowmachine (and ATV) country.

Picture Copyright © 2011 Keith Andrews



Alma Smithhisler

Alma shows her fine riding form. That white parka she is wearing is home made by her mother. Very warm; a real Eskimo hunting parka. White cotton duck over furs. No zipper, but pulls over. Zippers let the cold wind in, and jam, give trouble. This form of parka making is very traditional and practical.


Picture Copyright © 2011 Keith Andrews



Approaching the Pass

Alma leading, Ramon following, on the approach to the Mosquito Pass entrance, a few miles ahead of her.

The morning sun is shining on the mountaintops.


Picture Copyright © 2011 Keith Andrews



Entering Mosquito Pass

Looking north in the pass, approaching an area of scree and tough going.




Picture Copyright © 2011 Keith Andrews



The Caldera

As we enter the maw of the pass, this caldera is on our left. It takes a bit of climbing and maneuvering to get in there. Once in there, it is an intimidating sight with those stone ramparts towering over you.


Picture Copyright © 2011 Keith Andrews



Ramon slides over the Pass

Once at the top of the pass, the drop on the north side can be fairly nice, like today, or it could be a tough, steep notch, depending on the snow conditions. This year, it was not an issue


Picture Copyright © 2011 Keith Andrews



Taking a break

A curiosity of the pass is that no matter how hard it is blowing entering -- or leaving -- the pass, the middle of it is almost invariably dead calm.
This is the spot, and a good place to take a break, something to eat.


Picture Copyright © 2011 Keith Andrews



Entering Oro Grande

The Oro Grande ramparts are about 3,500 ft high, and very impressive.


Picture Copyright © 2011 Keith Andrews



Greg Smith entering Oro Grande

That is still the area that has little wind, and the snow can get soft and deep. Greg is on his best form to avoid getting stuck.


Picture Copyright © 2011 Keith Andrews



Ramon Proposes to Alma

Actually, he is just taking her picture, but ... well ... anyone could misunderstand the gesture. Would she have accepted?


Picture Copyright © 2011 Keith Andrews



Endless snow!

It is conditions such as these that make the whole trip worthwhile. Miles upon miles of snow so smooth, that you could pin the throttle and close your eyes.
How long would you keep your eyes closed?


Picture Copyright © 2011 Keith Andrews



Leaving Oro Grande by the Notch

Well, it doesn't really look too bad today.




Picture Copyright © 2011 Keith Andrews



You want me to go thru THAT!?

On second thought, it proved up to its reputation! But, with a bit of perseverance, we all got through.




Picture Copyright © 2011 Keith Andrews



One by One we pop out

That is Henry Kakaruk with his quintessential cigarette hanging from his mouth. It only lasts 45 seconds at 40 mph, he says.




Picture Copyright © 2011 Keith Andrews



Skirting Glacial Lake

Ramon in his Tundra LT 600 ACE travels on the bank of Glacial lake. To his left you can see how rough it is, all wind sculpted. This area almost invariably blows hard.


Picture Copyright © 2011 Keith Andrews



Leaving Glacial Lake

With regret, we call it a day and we leave Glacial Lake and Oro Grande behind and head for home.


Picture Copyright © 2011 Keith Andrews

Narrative Copyright © 2011, Ramon Gandia. All rights reserved.
All pictures on this page Copyright © 2011, Keith Andrews.