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Thread: Lake Clark Pass

  1. #1

    Default Lake Clark Pass

    I am heading through Lake Clark Pass for the first time in a week or so and was wondering what a resonable ceiling is for the pass?

    Thanks

  2. #2

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    Depends on your airplane, your experience, and your in-air decision-making abilities. The FAA webcams do a pretty decent job of depicting the conditions. If you don't like the idea of flying in what you are looking at there, don't go. Winds can be equally important. In my PA-22, I don't fly through there if there are winds 30 kts or greater at Iliamna or Port Alsworth, and usually I wouldn't launch of either of those was 25 kts or greater.

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    Wind is a big concern, as Troy says. I've come through very low - 500 AGL - on calm days. I'd definitely want to be higher if the wind is blowing hard - gives more ability to maneuver or turn around if you have to, especially in the narrows. I came through yesterday and it was a wild ride.

    The Lake Clark east cam is not on line, but FAA briefers can pull it up and tell you what they are seeing. At least they did for me. Also, Lake Clark Air flies the pass probably every day, and you can often get a pilot report from them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Troy Hamon View Post
    Depends on your airplane, your experience, and your in-air decision-making abilities. The FAA webcams do a pretty decent job of depicting the conditions. If you don't like the idea of flying in what you are looking at there, don't go. Winds can be equally important. In my PA-22, I don't fly through there if there are winds 30 kts or greater at Iliamna or Port Alsworth, and usually I wouldn't launch of either of those was 25 kts or greater.
    Good advice. Just remember that the winds are double across the ridge lines, and triple in the passes! That sometimems doesn't give a low-power aircraft much in the way of real time climb performance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly 2 View Post
    Good advice. Just remember that the winds are double across the ridge lines, and triple in the passes! That sometimems doesn't give a low-power aircraft much in the way of real time climb performance.
    In a long, deep, narrow, climbing pass like Merrill Pass, a head wind will have a steady downward component to it that may even prevent climbing at all. Next time you fly through Merrill, notice all the old dead airplanes on either side of the summit.

  6. #6

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    I only fly Merrill when the winds are relatively light, Lake Clark Pass is socked in, and Merrill has ceilings above 4500 feet msl, more like above 5000 feet. Beautiful, but oh so serious country.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Troy Hamon View Post
    I only fly Merrill when the winds are relatively light, Lake Clark Pass is socked in, and Merrill has ceilings above 4500 feet msl, more like above 5000 feet. Beautiful, but oh so serious country.
    I agaree with you. but, after maybe 100-trips through that pass, don't I recall that 5,000' will put you about 800' above the RIDGE , and almost 2,500' above the saddle at the pass itself? The one just to the south of the pass itself, I'm talking about. You wouldn't want to fly over the north side anyway, I'm sure.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly 2 View Post
    I agaree with you. but, after maybe 100-trips through that pass, don't I recall that 5,000' will put you about 800' above the RIDGE , and almost 2,500' above the saddle at the pass itself? The one just to the south of the pass itself, I'm talking about. You wouldn't want to fly over the north side anyway, I'm sure.
    With that many trips through, you are certainly more familiar with it than I am. I think I've been through there a handful of times, compared to 40 or so through Lake Clark. Obviously not the kind of experience level you have...

    The mountains on either side of Merrill are well over 6,000 feet, though that isn't for the entire length of the pass. The low webcam is basically at the pass summit at 3,045 feet, while the high webcam is at the ridge, at 4,524 feet. I like to be at 4,000 feet or more, but I like having more ceiling in there as it is just narrow and I'm less familiar. At Lake Clark, I'm okay with 500 foot ceilings, but it is a wide, long pass...and I've been through it a lot (relatively speaking) both as a passenger and pilot. What I don't like about Merrill is that if you get down low enough it turns into a one-way pass at the summit...not my favorite situation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Troy Hamon View Post
    With that many trips through, you are certainly more familiar with it than I am. I think I've been through there a handful of times, compared to 40 or so through Lake Clark. Obviously not the kind of experience level you have...

    The mountains on either side of Merrill are well over 6,000 feet, though that isn't for the entire length of the pass. The low webcam is basically at the pass summit at 3,045 feet, while the high webcam is at the ridge, at 4,524 feet. I like to be at 4,000 feet or more, but I like having more ceiling in there as it is just narrow and I'm less familiar. At Lake Clark, I'm okay with 500 foot ceilings, but it is a wide, long pass...and I've been through it a lot (relatively speaking) both as a passenger and pilot. What I don't like about Merrill is that if you get down low enough it turns into a one-way pass at the summit...not my favorite situation.
    You're right about that, Troy. It's DEFINITELY a go or no go at the summit. That old USAF wreck still there right at the pass on the north side? And a couple more at the downstream end of Chakachamna where it narrows doen to almost nothing?

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly 2 View Post
    You're right about that, Troy. It's DEFINITELY a go or no go at the summit. That old USAF wreck still there right at the pass on the north side? And a couple more at the downstream end of Chakachamna where it narrows doen to almost nothing?
    When I've been through there, the east end of Chakachamna always seems to have low ceilings compared to the pass itself. Probably as a result of the same crud that is in Lake Clark Pass whenever I end up going through Merrill. It takes some careful fuel planning for me to do that flight, because if you get all the way to the east end of Chakachamna eastbound, and find a wall of murk, it's a long way back to anywhere.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Troy Hamon View Post
    When I've been through there, the east end of Chakachamna always seems to have low ceilings compared to the pass itself. Probably as a result of the same crud that is in Lake Clark Pass whenever I end up going through Merrill. It takes some careful fuel planning for me to do that flight, because if you get all the way to the east end of Chakachamna eastbound, and find a wall of murk, it's a long way back to anywhere.


    You're right about that. If the weather is down a bit, and is riding on an east wind, it can get a little scary. My familiarity with the pass used to let me sneak through when the ducks and geese were standing on the corner waiting for the bus. If you can squeeze through that teeny weeny little slot at the east end of the lake, it all goes downhill from there. Anything better than 10' or 20' will let you sneak on through. I'm not recommending that! I'm just saying that I've come through that way a few times ina C-206 on floats, both straight and amphibious. Worst possible case: put 'er down on a sandbar at the lake and wait it out, maybe.

    I'm STILLnot recommending it. . . . .

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly 2 View Post


    You're right about that. If the weather is down a bit, and is riding on an east wind, it can get a little scary. My familiarity with the pass used to let me sneak through when the ducks and geese were standing on the corner waiting for the bus. If you can squeeze through that teeny weeny little slot at the east end of the lake, it all goes downhill from there. Anything better than 10' or 20' will let you sneak on through. I'm not recommending that! I'm just saying that I've come through that way a few times ina C-206 on floats, both straight and amphibious. Worst possible case: put 'er down on a sandbar at the lake and wait it out, maybe.

    I'm STILLnot recommending it. . . . .
    With little trike tires I haven't been real fond of landing on unprepared surfaces unless I've walked on them...though I feel differently about ice...maybe I need to get some 850s on my mains just to have a few more options in a case like that. There are some pretty big bars by Kenibuna Lake, and a couple along Chakachamna.

    I do like the fact that it is downhill from the pinch point, so if you can see through there then things are looking better pretty quick. But I don't like flying when the ducks are walking...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Troy Hamon View Post
    With little trike tires I haven't been real fond of landing on unprepared surfaces unless I've walked on them...though I feel differently about ice...maybe I need to get some 850s on my mains just to have a few more options in a case like that. There are some pretty big bars by Kenibuna Lake, and a couple along Chakachamna.

    I do like the fact that it is downhill from the pinch point, so if you can see through there then things are looking better pretty quick. But I don't like flying when the ducks are walking...
    Well ---------- I admit that I never LIKED it much either. But you're right about the skinny rollers. The 8.50s do help . . .

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