Alaskan Campout: Exploring first descents in AK’s Chugach Range

Comments by Abe Blair/

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Ring…Ring…Hello?

Yo Abe it’s Ian, Moss’s friend. I hear your coming to AK?

Yeah man, I head up next week.

Sweet, it turns out a buddy of mine up here in Valdez knows a new pilot that wants to start flying snowboarders and skiers out into the Chugach mountains for camp trips like Jeremy Jones is doing. You interested in doing one? It shouldn’t cost more than a day of heli for a week of camping and splitboarding/climbing dream lines.

This was a style trip I had wanted to do for many years. But not having a big filming budget and sponsors I figured it would always just be a pipe dream. I took about 2 seconds to make up my mind and say yes. A week later I was in Palmer sleeping in the hanger of Matt Thoft & Emily Schock owners of Silvertip Aviation, LLC. We took a scout flight the day before and had a zone that seemed like the best option with mountain aspects going all directions.

After setting up camp, we were all very excited and ready to get on some lines. But first we had to make sure that the entire group was ready for safe glacier travel and rescue if needed. Jeremy Martin, our group’s most experienced member, ran us through a multiple beacon drill just outside of camp and then a crevasse rescue with a double deadman anchor and a Z to C drag pulley system for extraction.

After the refresher we had time for a short tour to the base of the main camp face. Hoping the snow would soften once we got to the base of the aspect, we were all disappointed to find that the wind event from a few days ago had compacted the west face to a nearly unrideable snow surface. Over the following few days we toured around our private Alaskan glacier covering miles of terrain all while staying in view of our base camp and in search of good snow. Unfortunately the best snow was found in a small lower angle area that only got a few hours of sun each day.

Riding what we could the trip turned out to be epic. Although the big lines remained unridden the stoke level stayed high. Camping so deep in the mountains with the Aurora every night was breathtaking, not to mention the amazing views in every direction. Let’s just say I can’t wait until next year to ride the lines we left behind.

Want more awesome photos? Head over to the Snowboard Mag facebook page for more awesome shots of the Aurora Borealis.