Ski Traverse of Neacola Range

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Photo of Turquoise Lake in the Neacola Mountains in autumn, courtesy of www.nps.gov. To see photos from the ski traverse, visit http://www.ospreypacks.com/athletes/7/.

Ski Traverse of Neacola Range

Earlier this year, Joe Stock, Dylan Taylor, and Andrew Wexler made the first full-length traverse of the rugged Neacola Mountains in Alaska’s Lake Clark National Park. The trio flew in early April to Chakachamna Lake at the north end of the range and then skied for six stormy days to reach a cache they had left at the center of the Neacolas. For the next 10 days, they waited out storms and snatched climbs and first descents. “We got first descents of the Gorilla Finger, a 2,600-vertical-foot couloir, and Immortal Technique, a 3,000-vertical-foot couloir. One day we racked up 10,000 vertical feet of skiing,” said Stock in an email.

After five more days of ski touring along glaciers, they crawled through nasty alder bushes to reach Lake Clark at the southern end of the traverse. In all, they toured about 100 miles and 20,000 vertical feet; the vert totaled 57,000 feet including their various descents.

The Neacola Mountains, a portion of the Aleutian Range, are “like a heavily glaciated version of the North Cascades,” Stock said. “These low-elevation Alaskan glaciers are melting fast, though. Along our tour, we compared 10 GPS elevations to 1958 USGS maps and found an average elevation drop of 70 feet.”

Get it while you can…

Last year, Stock and Wexler completed a 175-mile ski traverse through the Chugach Range, from Anchorage to Valdez. Said Stock: “We have more ideas for the future.” Comment on this story