Alaska Update #11

Practicing fixed-line ascension

Date: 7-18 July

Locations: Talkeetna, Matanuska

Wow, it’s been a while. I guess that’s a signal of how busy I’ve been. Though the Denali season is over (our last group came down today, fully intact – no loss of life, limb, or digit), there’s still lots to do. I have several projects I’m working on in the office and I also have 3 full days of childcare a week (two days with 3 kids, one day with 2) plus two hours of manure and gardening work a day. And trying desperately to keep up with working out, email, fall programming, …

This past weekend I went to the Matanuska Glacier with guides Beth, Dusty, and Dustin for an introductory Glacier Travel/Crevasse Rescue course. (see photos in link – mine.) It was fun and at times slightly terrifying. Walking backwards into a crevasse really made me take shelter of two thick ropes, one attached to melting ice and the other to Beth, and concentrate on my breathing and on placing my crampons firmly into the ice wall. (Of course, there was lots of sharanam mama going on too…)

But on Wednesday I’m off again, this time for two weeks, to some glacier or other. We’ll be working on snow camping, cramponing and snowshoeing (and possibly skiing with big packs and sleds!), finding and avoiding crevasses, and what to do if you don’t avoid them. (This weekend was a basic primer; the longer course will be much more in-depth.) I’m a little nervous… I’m the only woman on the team of 6 students/2 instructors and can only hope that I’m not the least strong, least capable, least experienced. Spending so much time in such close contact with strangers will be a big challenge in its own right.

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