Confusion consumed my mind, and I couldn’t shake off the feeling of dis-ease as we sat on our sleds on the icefield. We’d been trudging through the snow for 27 days, making our slow progress across North America’s biggest glaciers—and the biggest non-polar ice cap in the world. What had begun as a harrowing ascent up razor-sharp ice-fins 130 miles before on the Kaskawulsh glacier, had become my weird, beautiful and surreal home in the Yukon for the last month. Life on the icefield had been nothing short of spectacular. Though exhausting and hard, it was a world that fueled body and soul. Was I really ready to leave? I knew Jon wasn’t. Continue reading ALCAN TO OCEAN ICECAP EXPEDITION: Homeward bound
Sixty-one, sixty-two, sixty-three. Gasping, I counted our ski-steps up the massive wall of snow, pausing to rest at the sixty-third, one ski facing up the mountain and the other planted firmly behind, keeping the weight of our sleds from dragging us down the mountainside. The harness creaked with the 150 lb. sled held on by two straps at my hips. A colossal bank of snow looming overhead grew larger as we toiled upward, its fake summits causing a sigh every few hundred feet. Shadowy indentations and undulations marked crevasses threatening to swallow us up—or gulp us down—at the base of the pass. Continue reading Alcan to Ocean Icecap Expedition: The 100th mile
If the Greeks ever sculpted statues of athletic women, Lynne would have been their muse. She meticulously applied sunblock to her alabaster skin, standing sleek and strong in the snow. She looked built for this, her finely chiseled but feminine arms enviable and each movement made with grace and purpose.
I peed my pants that morning. If it hadn’t been so funny, it would have been pretty embarrassing. Continue reading Alcan to Ocean Expedition: Onward ho, cheesemongers!
I’d spent the night alone on the Kaskawulsh glacier with a torrent of avalanches on the nearest mountain for company, thousands of pounds of ice crashing down its flank, not daring to venture beyond my safe zone- the circle around camp I’d probed for crevasses. “Bad news”, Jon called, he and Lynne emerging from the white wilderness. I gave Lynne a big hug between mouthfuls of pasta, a bowl in one hand, the tight pang in my chest dissipating. I’d spent hours pacing the soft snow, waiting for Jon and Jim to come back with Lynne, who’d been dropped off further up the glacier in a safer landing zone, free from the massive crevasses that pocked the area.
The 3:30am night air bit into our exposed skin as we dismantled camp and prepared for the long ascent of a 15 mile day. Lynne would be dropped off at 5,500 feet, where the snow was more stable. Just the day before, Jim had punched through a very well-hidden crevasse while we traveled unroped, incredibly lucky it hadn’t been wider. To avoid the hazards of that section, and to meet Lynne before nightfall, we caught a few hours sleep before waking up for the big push. Continue reading Alcan to Ocean Icecap Expedition: Alone on the Kaskawulsh