Sunday, May 17, 2009

Valdez - A dream come true

After a great trip to Alps, I flew to Anchorage, AK with Adam. Both he and I respectively had AMGA exams and advanced courses to take( My friend Angela Hawse had been waiting for me there for a few days because I had had to postpone my flight there due to some health issues (see Les Droites entry).

Yet, as soon as I got there, we drove 6hours from Anchorage to Valdez - the world's heliski mecca - to start checking out the terrain we were going to be examined on. And this is what we found...

Long story short (will let the pictures speak for themselves), this course made my dreams of becoming an aspirant guide a reality. After taking the advanced alpine and rock this past fall and the level III AIARE course in March, this was the missing piece to the puzzle. This has been a very dear dream of mine. I have had to fight for this dream and believe in it in ways I had never before had to. It's been the most amazing journey, one filled with hope, happiness, sadness, deep grief and sorrow, challenges, learning experiences, amazing travels, and mostly amazing people. I am greatful for it ALL. I am greatful for having believed and for people who believed in me.

I am now so excited for the journey ahead. I am still a ways away from getting the full certification but for now, I am just happy to be where I'm at...

Berlin Wall

While training, we got baseline information regarding the snowpack. The black line is the ash layer from when Mount Redoubt erupted late March. Impressive. This layer however made for really poor skiing, when, a few days later, it came to the surface on southerly aspects.

The Worthington Glacier

Eric Larsen building a sled, training for our sled lower drill

Skiing through seracs on the so called 27mile glacier

Getting a ride back to the car on a Harley... in Alaska, the law is that the passenger needs to wear a helmet, but not the driver of the bike... no comment!

Skiing down the mighty Cherry Couloir on Python Peak.... holy steepness!

The Cherry Couloir on Python Peak

Our instructor, Howie Schwartz making radio contact on the Worthington Glacier

Crevasse rescue training

Time to fly... we flew into a remote area of the range for a three day traverse with all our camping and skiing gear on our backs

Where we were dropped off

Beautiful ridge climb

Camping on day 1 of the traverse with Angela Hawse on a nice and flat rock

Inside the tent

The neverending Tonsina Glacier... miles and miles of flat... gotta love that...

Forest and I getting our evening debrief on day 2 of the traverse and day 1 of our exams. We are hiding from the blistering sun in the tent

Our camp below Hoodoo Col

View on Girls Mountain and the Hoodoo Glacier... gorgeous. last day of the three day traverse

Climbing up to Girls Mountain

Communicating bears

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