Deeper: Alaska, Glacier Camp
By Jeremy Jones | April 28th, 2010
GLACIER BAY NATIONAL PARK, Alaska. For sixteen years I have made an annual pilgrimage to Alaska every spring for 4 to 7 weeks. On average I spend more days in Alaska then my home mountain range and it has become a second home to me. Alaska has always been the place I judge my snowboarding. Everything else leading up to it is just a warm up. No matter how epic my winter has been once I hit Alaska it all seems irrelevant.
The quest has always been to ride the best mountains I could find and to always ride new terrain. It started in Valdez 16 years ago and as new lines dried up there the search led me Girdwood, Skagway, Haines, Tulsequa and the Tordrillo Mountains. A long the way I learned what ranges are holding the goods a lot about what combination of conditions is needed to create the real trophies lines. This knowledge is what has directed me into the Fairweather Range 65 miles outside of Haines. It is hands down the most impressive range I have come across and has captured my imagination and has motivated me more then any other range in the world.
On April 4th trusted bush pilot Drake and I lifted off from Haines in search for a place I could call home for a month. Setting out to find a base camp is one of the more daunting tasks I have ever done. You can scour maps all you want but once you are up in the air none of that matters. Time is limited because we are so far from town that there is not a lot of extra fuel to explore before the plane needs to go back for fuel. In the plane was all my gear and ten days of food and fuel incase the weather came in and the rest of the group would not be able to meet me. Tom Burt, Ryland Bell, Josh Dirksen, Lucas Debari, Camera men Chris Edmands, Garry Pendygrass, And Seth Lightcap stayed back until I had made the call.
We are approaching the general area that I saw from across the way last year and had been looking closely on the maps.
The terrain was amazing but a ton of the outruns were littered with crevasses and cornice covered ridges making a lot of the faces unridable.
This is our airport and our home. I hardly looked at the zone before declaring it good to go but I had seen what I needed to on the first pass; dark white North faces with clean out runs at the right elevation (above 3000 ft) and surrounded by tons of glaciers. So with low fuel and in and out clouds I told Drake to set it down if he could. With in ten minutes of first seeing the zone I was now on the ground, by myself, and 65 miles away from the closest person. Even though there was a lot of work to do like pack a runway or build tent platforms I could not stop drooling over our new home.
Mapping out an area takes a ton of work. Everything is new. Everything needs to be analysed, dissected and discussed. We start with the smallest and safest lines and work up from there. Our first mission was to “Town Hill” the closest and safest line in our world. We are getting ready to put Tom Burt on belay to go dig a pit on the North Face.
Stay tuned for more updates.
In this post: Tom Burt Chris Edmands Seth Lightcap Ryland Bell Josh Dirksen Film: Deeper Keywords: Big Mountain Spines Backcountry Line Powder scenic Article Premium Content Teton Gravity Research Featured Snowboard Athlete Blog