A day in our life that we’ll remember (7th day in the Chugach range)

Published 27.07 in category Ice Legacy Chugach Alaska

Chugach – Day 7 Report

A day in our life that we’ll remember.

Last night we had some discussions about whether we should commit to the pass – elevation 2500 m approx – and reach the Nalchina glacier or take a long detour that will take more time and might damage our sleds since the itinerary was going back through raw ice.

During that same evening I was communicating with a pilot called Matt Keller about a possible crampons airdrop.
He said: “When and where do you need the crampons?”
I replied: “As soon as you can Matt!! But I understand it’s really weather depending”.
Matt has been really optimistic during our exchanges and I had the feeling he was the right guy to handle this type of situation.


We woke up at 6am and opened the tent zip to see the col. The clouds were right above it. Was that a sign of Nature? We decided to go for it! I sent a last message to Matt letting him know the conditions. He replied immediately mentioning the fog and cloud layer at his place. I am not loosing hope but have the feeling that the weather would be good enough for the col and then way down on Nalchina glacier but maybe not good enough for Matt to be able to fly. I still gave him an ETA of a certain area of Nalchina glacier so he could find us in case of flying.

After 30 minutes of skiing, we saw a group of 4 tents and 10-15 people outside forming a big group. Børge and I unclipped our sleds and went to meet them. Chris was the name of the leader and he was in charge of 13 young folks from the AOLS – American Outdoor Leadership School. They came up from Nalchina glacier and were spending some time out learning. Today they were bound to do a crevasse rescue exercise. It was great meeting with them. Børge teased them because they were using snowshoes instead of skis. We were all laughing! Chris have us some nice info about the col going down and they were there 4 days ago so the tracks are still visible. Quickly it was time to say goodbye and head towards the col.

Børge and I were roped up. From one side of the pass to the other, the place is wild.
We started our descent still roped up until we decided to forget about it and ride down as fast as we could. It is wise not to spend too much time on a face where icefalls are constantly threatening. We continued our route and enjoyed zig zagging in the mist around huge cracks before heading to our second descent. Fortunately, we could see the tracks of the group which saved us a lot of time. After couple of photos near the edges of massives crevasses, we started skiing down one after the other between giants ice cubes and a steep mountain face. The snow is soft so we can easily control our speed. We rushed down and made it to safer ground. We enjoyed having a break after that adrenaline rush.

We kept on going down the Nalchina glacier feeling more relaxed and talking about life. The weather improved.I told Børge that we just passed the GPS position I gave this morning to Matt, the pilot. I am not sure he will come. Anyway we had to continue. I am concerned because we are going to leave the Nalchina glacier and ski up another glacial valley much narrower. Suddenly! We could see and hear a small plane flying over the sharp mountains of the Chugach. “It’s him! It’s Matt”. He quickly disappeared though. Our guess is that Matt went straight to the GPS position I gave him in the morning. He disappeared from the valley where we were skiing. My emotions are mixed. I am excited but not too sure he will find us. “Let’s go back on our track and hit the middle of the glacier so he can see us” declared Børge. I grabbed my red jacket to make ourselves visible. Nothing. We skied few more minutes. Nothing. “He’s here, he’s back” insisted Børge. I put my jacket on my ski poles and lift the whole thing towards the sky. “Yessssss!” He is making a turn towards the valley where we were! He flew over us once and continued straight in the end of the valley before making a huge turn. He is now flying righ next to the mountain faces. He adjusted his bearing. The place is now pointing at us. “He is flying very low, waouhh” says Børge. He’s coming, closer, closer. He is now less than a hundred meters from us.

He dropped two pairs of crampons right next to us! We are exhilarating!! And waving at him. He is now flying a third time over us to say goodbye. We are screaming of joy!! As Matt flew away, I picked up the crampons. Not only there were crampons but also smoked wild salmon and chocolate!!
Børge was pumped! I was pumped!

Back in the tent now, here is the message I just sent to Matt:
“You made it!! We really glad to see you flying above us. I feel much better now. Since we are carrying all our equipment with sleds we sometimes use the crampons and it makes life way safer. 3 days ago I realized I lost the crampons because I needed them going uphill on the Columbia. So it feels good to have some spikes back! Our hope for Marcus Baker are back too. I tried both pairs, they work. I’ll go for the Charlet. And keep the other pair in a safe place :-). Will keep you updated as we go… Thank you Matt for your efficiency and optimism!! And the salmon + Lindt chocolate, OMG ahahahah”

What a day!! Adventure is precious



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