Before taking off, at NOLS headquarter, Palmer, AK
This 28-day mountaineering expedition took place in the Chugach Mountains of Alaska. In total, the expedition traveled 93 miles and gained 14,450 feet of elevation in a fast paced, challenging traverse of one of the most heavily glaciated mountain ranges on the planet.
Starting at the sea level in Valdez, AK the course traveled 7 strenuous days (often in white-out conditions) up the entire length of the Valdez glacier and up and over Cashman Pass where we were re-rationed by plane and swapped our snowshoes for skis. At this re-ration we had an evacuation of one student who wanted to leave the course due to personal reasons. From there, the course through a remote upper branch of the Columbia Glacier before crossing the endless Tazlina ice flats and up to the Science Glacier. We spent 4 days base camped on the upper Science practicing mountaineering skills and splitting up into small teams to make three notable ascents of Mt Fafnir (by the crevassed East Ridge), Mt.Haley (via the steep west Ridge), and Early Morning Peak (via an all night push of the classic West Ridge). The course then traveled down the length of the humungous Nelchina Glacier, where we received another re-ration on bare ice from Mike Meekin, perhaps one of the most skilled Alaskan pilots ever. From there, we made a couple big pushes to get off glacier and hiked 3 days through beautiful flood plain and tundra country to our pickup at radio tower just off the Glenn Highway.
Significant obstacles included: the heavily crevassed third bench of the Valdez; the technical descent of Cashman Pass; a significant windstorm on the upper Tazlina requiring a formidable amount of bolstering; tricky firn zone travel on the Nelchina; the traverse up onto the toe of the Sylvester to get around the high running Nelchina River; and the physical, mental, an spiritual endurance to keep thriving through consistently challenging terrain and conditions.