Sunday, October 25, 2009

Dan's trip to DC - Save Bristol Bay - Stop the Pebble Mine!

I just returned from my first visit to Capitol Hill as a citizen lobbyist, and was surprised to find that almost everyone we talked with has heard of the Bristol Bay region. Many know that it's home to the largest sockeye salmon fishery on earth, the largest king salmon fishery in Alaska on the Nushagak River, and that you can catch 20+ lb rainbow trout in the Kvichak River. But what was most astonishing is that most of the people on the hill, including members of congress, and various agency heads, had not heard of the proposed Pebble Mine! Considering the magnitude of the threat that this development poses to the Bristol Bay region, it's clear that advocates to SAVE BRISTOL BAY, though galvanized and organized, have a lot of work ahead of us.

Not to suggest that our week wasn't successful - and we actually moved the needle significantly and, in my opinion, convinced some very powerful people that the Bristol Bay is worth saving. Here's Trout Unlimited's press release announcing our trip last week!

Let me know if you have any questions by emailing me at

Friday, October 23, 2009

First Ski Descent of Mt. Chamberlain - Powder Magazine

This summer, Alaska Alpine Adventures guide Joe Stock and Anchorage photographer Matt Hage completed the first ski descent of Mt. Chamberlain in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the highest peak in the Brooks Range.

Here's a great online article authored by Stock available on Well done guys!
Photo: Matt Hage

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Adventure Photography 101: Our National Parks

Check out this great interview from National Geographic Adventure with adventure photographer Corey Rich.

"For the past 20 years, ADVENTURE contributing photographer Corey Rich has experienced and documented the great landscapes of the world. Still he finds this home turf, America's National Parks System, electrifying. Here, Rich reveals his favorite places on Earth—all within the national parks (Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Lake Clark). They're our American treasures, just waiting to be explored."

His amazing photographs inspire the adventurer in all of us.

ANWR Ranks #6 in 50 Best American Adventures

Where Beasts Take Refuge
- Exploring ANWR

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wilderness Cuisine

11 years ago, Alaska Alpine Adventures began exploring the wilderness of Lake Clark National Park. While taking guests into the backcountry was somewhat new to founders Dan Oberlatz and Derek Nelson, eating gourmet cooking was not. Derek had quite the culinary resume under his belt by the time he first served up fresh Pad Thai on the shores of Turquoise Lake in the heart of the park. From there, his passion for delicious wilderness cuisine turned into a full fledged obsession to create a menu complete with filling breakfast burritos, fresh deli sandwiches and dinners typically found in your favorite downtown restaurants. And no dinner was complete without dessert, where Derek rounded off the menu with items such as the Mountain Cookie, named as much for a passion for the mountains as the sheer size of this tasty treat.

With the help of our vendors as well as the expertise of the kitchen staff at Snow City Cafe, we provide what we feel is the most amazing backcountry cuisine ever created. Here's a sample of a typical day. If this wets your appetite, you might have to head up to Alaska this summer to taste what we have in store!

Breakfast: Berry Pancakes
What goes better with a morning cup of coffee while watching the sun crest the ridge above camp than pancakes hot off the griddle?

Take your standard pancake mix (or make your own from scratch) and some organic freeze dried berries from Just Tomatoes. Add pure mountain water from your local stream and mix to a slightly lumpy consistency. Cook on a buttered griddle until golden brown! Top your delicious cakes with pure maple syrup (rehydrated of course) from Alpine Aire and enjoy!

Lunch: Italian Club Sandwich
Take 2 generous slices of Focaccia bread, add Pesto, Prosciutto, fresh Buffalo Mozzarella and julienned Roasted Red Peppers. Combine to make a hearty, delicious sandwich!

Dinner: Pad Thai
After a long day exploring the wilderness, a delicious meal is all that will quell the hunger inside. The perfect prescription for this backcountry ailment is a full, piping hot bowl of Pad Thai! Here's how we do it:

While your rice noodles are soaking, rehydrate your Alpine Aire freeze dried eggs and chicken, and organic freeze dried veggies from Just Tomatoes. Fry up a little scrambled egg; stir fry your veggies and chicken, add a little pad thai sauce (we use our AAA secret recipe here) and rice noodles. Fry in your pan until slightly browned and serve hot. You won't go to bed hungry after this meal!

Dessert: The Mountain Cookie
Need I say more. It's a cookie named the Mountain Cookie. This could possibly be the most action packed cookie in the Alaska wilderness. Here are a few of the ingredients, I'm betting you can imagine how it comes together: Peanut Butter, Rolled Oats, Chocolate Chips, Raisins and Brown sugar. This monster will keep you warm at night and energized throughout the next day. I could live on these things in the mountains.

After years of wilderness adventures eating a mix of mac and cheese, ramen noodles and peanut butter & jelly, I experienced my first Alaska Alpine Adventures meal in Katmai National Park. Surrounded by the austere landscape of the Valley of 10,000 Smokes, the wilderness experience was finally complete: Amazing scenery, great friends and unbelievable cuisine - I've haven't been the same since.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Back from New York!

I'm back from New York city and what turned out to be a successful presentation at the Explorers Club! I had a turn-out of roughly 60 people to enjoy my multi-media show on Lake Clark National Park highlighting a big traverse that I completed in 2007 with Mark Stevens. Of course, this finished with a lively discussion on the proposed Pebble Mine and the threat it poses to Lake Clark NP. I ended the show by playing the trailer for the outstanding film RED GOLD, which was very well received!

I'd like to thank the Explorers Club and good friends Nik & Liza for their generous hospitality. New York is a wilderness all its own, and they proved to be outstanding guides!

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!