Captain Cook State Recreational Area

IMG_2319I have been meaning to write about Captain Cook State Recreational Area for sometime now. Those of you with shiny new guidebooks (perhaps no longer shiny) may have noticed the two pages with directions to the area and a promise of climbable boulders on the beach. It was news to me too so I went down over Memorial Day to check the place out.

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On G-maps dozens of boulders can be seen dotting the coastline in the area, somehow resting upon the soggy silt that Cook Inlet is infamous for. They were tantalizing, but the deceptively deep mud made it impossible to climb or even reach most of these boulders during the low tide. In reality there were only 5 boulder formations on the beach within 3 miles of the campground that were climbable, the furthest of which I had seen featured on a few biking forums with a cabin bridging the gap between the rock and the bluff. The goal was to hike out to this landmark and work our way back, but it was hard to resist stopping.

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Bigger than it looks

Bigger than it looks

Boulder 5 house

Below the tide line, most of the boulders were featureless and smooth as glass except when they tilted back and were easy enough to scramble up. I was worried that I may not find anything worth climbing at all, but at the “house” boulder I found two great looking problems both 15 – 20 feet tall and possibly a double digit project on the steep overhang. I began throwing myself at the easiest looking line and my best effort got me up to some large edges that were covered in loose crystals and grit. I dropped off and was bummed not to send it, but it wasn’t worth putting more energy into the problem without being able to clean the top 8 feet of the boulder.  The line ended up being the hardest problem that I tried that day, somewhere in the V6 range. As we worked our way back I did 4 decent problems on the next boulder and discovered several bolted anchors at the top. Apparently people have been climbing here for a while.

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Climbing is definitely not the main draw to the area and the boulders were really a side attraction, adding a unique aspect to the inherent beauty of the coastline. Even the rednecks were awed by them; a truly rare feat. The most impressive formation we saw was a cluster of boulders sitting just off shore about 2 miles north of the campground. Reidun and I plodded through a foot of mud to find a dry bench of rock beneath a great line of edges. While the hill billies drank and yelled and did other hill billy activities, I climbed my favorite line of the day, Chicken of the Sea V3 (not sure if it was an FA, but I thought it should have a name)! Without taking off my shoes I was able to scamper across the boulders to another easy, but great looking line. I sent Siren Song V2 without a pad because of the pool below.

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Chicken of the Sea V3

Chicken of the Sea V3

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Siren Song V2

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Rednecks

Rednecks

Although the beach was not the bouldering hotspot I’d hoped to find, I was reminded that some people spend small fortunes to come to our state just to see the beauty that we often overlook. It is an important fact to remember whether you’re fishing, clamming, camping, or enjoying any of the other activities that the area has to offer. Even if you don’t get to climb, staring across the inlet at the Aleutian Range and watching the tide slowly consume all traces of the boulders is an incredible sight.

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On a side note, if you have a 4×4 or vehicle that can handle the rocky beach terrain, you will be able to access all these boulders (and more!) in less time.  Specifically, there are 2 points, approximately 6 miles north of the campground that look very good. Also, if you drive south to the Nikiski port, the boulders on and near Boulder Point  (that’s its name!) look like they have potential. It’s a long hike otherwise, but that is the nature of adventure. If you go please take pictures, and share!

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Cheers!