Kluane Lake in the Yukon territory of Canada was our home for 5 days as we camped near the Icefield Discovery airstrip. After a few months of planning, we were eager to dive into our expedition. But, the weather thwarted our efforts to fly in so we tried to relax and enjoy the extra days by skiing at Haines Pass and meandering up and around the peaks that guard the entrance to the Wrangell-St Elias range and Kluane National Park.
Our team of 7 had a month (mid-April to mid-May) to get in, do some big skiing, explore and climb some peaks, and exit out the Kaskawulsh glacier on skis all the way back to the trailhead. We had some idea of what this would take but no idea how involved it would actually be.
We landed on the Hubbard Glacier in teams of 2 and 3 and began building a base camp near Mt Vancouver. When pilot Tom swung in the Helio Courier (1960’s 3 seater plane) and dropped teammate Pete Linn and I on the stark, glacier flats, the first team to arrive, it was 9am and -5F. We started building out our basecamp and waited for the others to show up.
Over the next few weeks we assessed our options and explored various different routes. There is an art to glacier travel and in this area it was the key to success. We backed off a big objective but we also pursued other unplanned peaks and lines. Flexibility often leads to the best reward in the mountains. And, clear skies prevailed for our stay.
Fueling for these trips is crucial in the solar radiant heat, the frigid, windy, cold, and the long days of focus with consistent heavy loads – we were grateful for PROBAR support in the field. We finished every last bar and BOLT in our efforts to stay on top of our game.
I have a few writing assignments to come that will discuss our journey in more depth (stay tuned for links by PROBAR) but two of the great highlights were one; skiing incredible Alaskan powder while dropping over steep headwalls into crevasse strewn fields below and two; following the glacier to it’s termination and observing it’s wild, changing substance and surface while rappelling through crevasses, linking up ice crossings through the glacial melt pools, and hiking 12 miles on foot with our sleds and packs on our backs to the trailhead at Kluane Lake with an abundance of grizzly tracks en route. We covered 80 miles plus and much vertical ascent and descent but most interestingly experienced a unique human-powered element to come full circle.
Thanks PROBAR for fueling our Fire!