Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Life of an Alaskan Guide

Quick update so the chronology of the following post makes sense: I flew to Seattle from Borneo, took a 10-day Wilderness First Responder course in Bozeman, MT, visited Yellowstone (i'm not a fan of the crowds of people everywhere), packed everything back into my backpack and flew up to Anchorage to start my summer job.

Pacific NW

Practicing cleaning wounds on chicken breasts
She was one of the victims for a WFR scenario

Three words to describe Yellowstone: SO MANY PEOPLE

Bison roaming Montana

4 am

One day before departure to AK---packing

Ok. I'm glad that's out of the way. Now back to current events. I've been working in the Chugach Range in Alaska for the past month as a glacier/ice-climbing guide on the Matanuska Glacier. The same company I work for organizes 7 day Exposure trips, so I also get to go sea kayaking, backpacking, rafting, etc...

Life here is simple and the other guides are laid-back and mostly here to have a good time. About 1/3 of the company's staff has worked either at Palmer, McMurdo or the South Pole station in Antarctica, and another third are from New Zealand, Tasmania or just getting back from mountaineering in Patagonia----a diverse, experienced group.

Some of the guides
 I'm the youngest of the MICA guides 'family', and somehow Young Nat has become my nickname. Not sure how it happened, but it stuck.

Noah probably criticizing my anchor set-up
We live in tents in the woods; moose regularly brush against the sides of our 'homes' and we've had a bear wander through camp. There's no running water, but we have WiFi. We cook for ourselves using the stoves located in the CNB (Chuck Norris Building), and kill rodents with two-by-fours that dare venture into our cabin.

The nearest grocery store is 60 miles away and the laundromat is 10 mi, so for transportation we have the privilege of driving our boss's 1987 manual transmission Subaru --------I've come a long way since I was a 9th grader stalling in the Lakeside parking lot after ski practice.

I've still got the jacket

Petra forgot her sunglasses, so we improvised

Rocking out to 80's disco hits on our way to go climbing

Chores include chopping wood and heating the hot tub

Ellis, Jamal and Jeff


My job involves a lot of belaying and building V-thread anchors strong enough to hold a truck
Ellis down-climbing

Lets pause and admire my lack of footwork in this photo 

Traversing some ridge and learning about micro-routing

One of our clients dislocated his shoulder climbing, so Joe and I got to use our first aid skills (more traction!). Guess that WFR course wasn't a waste of money.
A guy in some serious pain

View of the Chugach Range from my tent-site--tallest peak is 13,100'

Cody in the truck

The jet-boat captain of the Matanuska River

I got tipped in halibut after a climb by a family of Ukrainians

Noah is the master of all knots 
Chris building anchors
Ellis being a model. 

Going up class 3 rapids on the Matanuska River with Cody, Joe and my boss

Don---My boss. 


Besides ice climbing, we get out on some rock as well:

Ellie preparing to get lowered down to the river for her first ascent

Really loose, gravel-like, shitty rock to climb on
First ascent! Ellie you're a BEAST
We get bored sometimes

1 comment:

  1. u are the best ice climber in the world! I wish I was there to watch, we realy miss u.
    Your sister