Monday, October 5, 2009

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Unbelievably it's October 2009 already. The snowfall is slowly creeping down the hillside as a constant reminder that summer is over, and fall's end is not far behind. Alaska is about to settle into winter. Goodbye long days, hello darkness!

The arrival of winter is not necessarily a bad thing. There are an amazing amount of things to do in the winter, and the adventurer in all of us is sure not to stand still. I can't help but think of all the winter activities within minutes of our office! Nordic skiing on the miles of lighted trails within the Anchorage city limits, unlimited backcountry skiing just outside of the city, and world class ice climbing to top it all off. But we are not there yet. Soon enough, soon enough. We are keeping our fingers crossed for deep snow, cold temps and as many "Work Outings" we can muster. Ah Fridays!

As for the summer of 2009; Alaska Alpine Adventures celebrates another successful season leading trips to all reaches Alaska, to recap: Our multisport, road based adventures took guests to some of the most amazing road accessible parks in the state, often proving to be the best introduction to Alaska one could ask for. Our backcountry trips took us deep into Alaska's National Parks including Twin and Turquoise Lakes in Lake Clark National Park, The Goat Trail in Wrangell St. Elias National Park, and The Valley of 10,000 Smokes in Katmai National Park. We also ventured into new country this year, here is a brief look at our 2009 exploratory adventures!

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge - Mt. Chamberlain and the Hulahula River - In June, owner Dan Oberlatz and AMGA guide Joe Stock lead a group of five bold adventurers to the far north on a combined mountaineering / rafting adventure. They succeeded in climbing Mt. Chamberlain as well as floating the Hulahula to the Beaufort Sea, with a pick up at the small native village of Kaktovic on Barter Island. Reports from Dan described vast, beautiful landscapes, fantastic climbing, and a river that ran fast and cold. It was a true Alaska Alpine Adventure and we hope to further our exploration into the miles of seldom visited terrain that is ANWR.

Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve - Aniakchak River - Also in June, Guide Seth Plunkett and I lead a returning couple on their second Alaska Alpine Adventure. On a quest to visit every National Park Unit, their last trip with us was an exploratory rafting trip down the Charley River in the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve. This year, it was the Aniakchak River in the Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve.
Promising adventure, Aniakchak is the least visited of the National Park units, and we were among the 30 or so people that visited this summer. The Caldera was like visiting another planet; a 2500' deep, 6 mile wide volcanic crater whose desolate landscape is a result of numerous eruptions that shaped the Aleutian Chain. The Aniakchak River, flowing fast to the Pacific Ocean, was exciting and kept us on our toes from start to finish.
This seldom visited preserve is definitely a hidden gem within the National Park system!

Wrangell St. Elias National Park - The North Wrangells - Dan was again able to explore new terrain with a trip to the North Wrangells with 2 clients on their 4th Alaska Alpine Adventure. Traveling into this new country required a trip to Nebesna, and a half hour super cub flight to a remote strip on Tumble Creek. Under the watchful eye of Mt. Jarvis, the threesome explored countless valleys, ridges and mountain peaks. It was such an amazing place that we have launched a new trip, EXPLORING THE NORTH WRANGELLS - WRANGELL-ST. ELIAS NP , a worthy adventure for 2010!

Lake Clark National Park - Neacola Mountains Exploratory Traverse - Veteran guide Andy Heath led two adventurous brothers deep into the Neacola mountains in search of unexplored valleys, high mountain passes and unclimbed peaks. Over the course of their trip, they traveled from Telaquana Lake south to Upper Twin Lake via an unexplored mountain route. Given the tired smiles on their faces, I would say that the adventure was a success! The Neacola Mountains in Lake Clark National Park continue to be one of our favorite places to explore in Alaska!

Alaska Range - Revelation Mountains Traverse - The Revelation Mountains are at the western tip of the Alaska Range, and make up Lake Clark NP's northern border. Dan scoured the maps for a route that would challenge him and veteran Alaska Alpine Adventures' client Mark Steven's, taking them to new country that was sure to leave them both speechless. This year, it was the Revelation Mountains. All I can say is, 13 days and countless passes, rivers and mountains later, Mark and Dan emerged from the wilderness with an expression that comes only from seeing the unbelievable, from experiencing the unimaginable. The Revelations are true wilderness.

Although we have closed up our summer base in Lake Clark, we are busy in the office here in Anchorage planning for 2010. Call us anytime, we are always looking forward to discussing the next adventure in your future and ours!

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