Friday, January 16, 2015

Alaska: Return to the Midnight Sun

Back in August I returned to the land of the midnight sun to help the Colorado Outward Bound School do a brief safety review of our courses in Alaska.

Alaska is a special place, time and again I am drawn to it. It is part diesel driven, motor powered, extra-larged-sized, and part homesteader, northern lights, dip-netting-salmon-nights and wild, wild lands.

As a barely 21 year-old mountaineer I first visited Alaska with grand plans of climbing Denali. I remember my first glimpse of America; the huge trucks, native Alaskans, Carhartts, maple syrup over sausage links, REI. That time I flew onto the glacier in a little Cessna plane which landed with skis on the glacier. This time we walked. That time I spent twenty-one days living on the glacier sheltered by the yellow fabric of a North Face tent. This time it was just four, the briefest of visits, not nearly enough to satisfy a craving.

Mik and Vic. The dream team of Safety Reviewers. 

Just above Lost Lake. The ground is spongy, made of of millions of little entities all mixing together, not unlike the Ecuadorian Paramo.

Transitions: First steps onto the ice with the milky sediment filled water eroding away the ice under your feet.

Huge feet went before us, complete with nails that can shred. In this case a grizzly bear enjoying the same camping spot as we chose. 
Students adding their talons to meet the Alaskan challenge.