Valdez, AK: Thompson Pass to Point Odessey

See the awesome Valdez Mountains on this 5.4-mile, off-trail adventure to Point Odyssey.
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See the awesome Valdez Mountains on this 5.4-mile, off-trail adventure to Point Odyssey.

Don’t be fooled by the short mileage. The routefinding, utter isolation, and potential for big weather--it’s only 18 miles from Prince William Sound--make this a challenging route. But front-row views of the toothy, glacier-clad spires in the Valdez Mountains more than reward the effort. And thanks to the road access to Thompson Pass, set at 2,678 feet beneath the glacier-draped pyramid of Girls Mountain, you don’t have to claw through alder to reach the hiker heaven above treeline. It’s simply one of the best trailheads in south-central Alaska.

From the pass, tackle a 5.4-mile round-trip hike to 4,539-foot Point Odyssey, where you’ll find those 360-degree vistas of the Valdez peaks. Most of the journey crosses pond-dotted tundra benches that switchback through short cliff bands. From the pass, just follow the broad ridgeline east-northeast toward locally named Little Odyssey, the first large bump on the ridge. Round Little Odyssey on its south side by following a broad tundra ledge at the 3,500-foot elevation. Then, as you come up against a deep gorge, turn north and climb through easy class 2 rock bands, descend to cross the gully between Little Odyssey and its big sister, and switchback northwest toward the obvious summit. Keep an eye out for rock ptarmigan, mountain goats, and Dall sheep. Make it an overnight: Find plenty of superb campsites on the various shelves.

MORE INFO: Alaska Public Lands Information Center, (907) 644-3661; nps.gov/aplic/center

-mapped by Steve Howe

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 8.7

Waypoints

POD001

Location: 61.125823, -145.72661

Trailhead: Broad turn-ou on southside of highway just southeast of pass.

POD002

Location: 61.131103, -145.721124

Pond

POD003

Location: 61.134325, -145.695552

Gully wall to east is steep; turn up through cliff bands

POD004

Location: 61.135767, -145.699015

Large pond and flat, secluded bench makes fine campsite

POD005

Location: 61.136844, -145.698579

Slate-filled gully between "Little Odyssey" and Point Odyssey. Climb to saddle between the two heights, then turn right/east upslope.

POD006

Location: 61.14047, -145.695578

Bench just below summit offers unobstructed 180-degree panoramas. Excellent scouting overlook for Marshall Pass region.

POD007

Location: 61.142066, -145.69567

Point Odyssey at 4,539 feet. Route beyond here becomes class III-IV scramble.

Valdez Mountains

Location: 61.140335, -145.695791

More views

Location: 61.138098, -145.69768

Water potholes

Location: 61.131179, -145.719995

Picking a route

Location: 61.137021, -145.698538

More alpine eye candy

Location: 61.136648, -145.69931