This semester I’ve been taking a class in ski mountaineering with Stan Justice from the Alaska Alpine Club and UAF. It’s been a lot of fun and I’ve learned a ton. My adviser recommended it to me since we’ll be spending a good amount of time on the Black Rapids glacier for field work and I need to be up to par on the important things like avalanche safety and rescue, crevasse rescue, and how to hike with a rope on and pointy objects. This is also good stuff to know, because Alaska glaciers are huge . . . HUGE. They make things like the Blue Glacier in Washington look like a backyard patch of snow. So this class has the added benefit of teaching me how to use the Alaska glacier “highway” system so hopefully I can start getting to some really cool places with my camera. I’m incredibly lucky because not many students working on a degree in Physics get to take mountaineering classes.
Yesterday our class was on the lower slopes of Panorama Peak just south the the Denali National Park entrance. It was a gorgeous day and a great break from normal classroom work.
A large part of what we covered was avalanche safety and rescue techniques. Before we started our instructors, Max and Chad cut a couple of pieces of snow to perform the rutschblock test to make sure that the other groups practicing anchor building and self-arrest were also safe.
I said it was a beautiful day, right? This part of the Alaska Range is pretty spectacular year round.