Steve Weileman, professional wilderness guide, and award-wining filmmaker and environmental advocate has teamed up with ASC on the Ikkatsu Project's latest endeavor.Steve's photography has been featured in The Forgotten Shore: A Photographic Journey Through Alaska’s Snug Harbor and his film debut, Ikkatsu: The Roadless, won multiple awards, including best environmental film at the Waterwalker Film Festival in 2013.
Augustine Island and the most active volcano in Alaska. Photo by Steve Weileman.
THE INTRODUCTON -
For the past two years my partner, Ken Campbell, and I have been helping track marine debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami event. We call it The Ikkatsu Project.
Ikkatsu roughly translates as ‘in this together.’ We felt this was appropriate, as this event truly brings both cultures on either side of the Pacific together. Last year, we traveled down the Washington Coast by kayak, which allowed us access to beaches unavailable by any other means. In addition to looking for specific tsunami debris, we conducted marine surveys for NOAA (you can see our report here
). We also released an award-winning documentary entitled Ikkatsu: The Roadless Coast,
which you can watch in its entirety here
For this year, we chose an even more arduous task: take our kayaks and research methods to a remote island in Alaska. Augustine Island, located at the entrance to Cook Island, hosts the most active volcano in Alaska. With the exception of a few geologist from the Alaska Volcano Observatory, it receives almost no visitors. In order to maximize our contribution to science, I contacted the staff
at Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation and asked if they had any projects that would benefit from our location and ability. They put me in touch with Abby Barrow, Coastal Monitoring and Outreach Coordinator for the Marine Environmental Research Institute
. One Skype conversation and a few emails later, we were set to collect water samples for Abby as part of her micro-plastic program
Adam Bradley is a life-long adventurer who is best known for his speed record attempts, including the 2009 unsupported speed record on the PCT which he completed faster than a supported runner. He has traversed over 20,000 miles on foot and descended over 13,000 miles on rivers throughout North America. Adam has now turned his focus to cycling and conservation, embarking on a long cycling tour from his home in Reno, NV to the arctic circle in Alaksa. Adam is collecting data for ASC's roadkill and wildlife observation projects en route. ASC caught up with Adam to hear about his recent adventure, the "Tippy Top Tour", and a little history on the "Krudmeister".
The Krudmeister relaxing. Photo by Adam Bradley.
: You go by the moniker "Krudmeister". Where in the world did that come from? AB
: My musical tastes run the gamut, but I especially like electronica. Peter Kruder and Richard Dorfmeister are known for their downtempo – dub remixes of pop, hip-hop and drum and bass songs. They are hands down some of my favorite musicians. My partner Shelly and I were joking around one night and she fused Kruder and Dorfmeister into Krudmeister, which I thought was hilarious. Most long distance hikers have trail names and I adopted that one. It has stuck and lots of my buds just call me Krud. ASC
: You hold the 2009 speed record for the PCT and covered tens of thousands of miles under human power. What inspires you to take on such crazy adventures? AB: I did set the all out PCT speed record in an unsupported fashion in 2009 along with my hiking partner. It was worthwhile to me as it proved that an unsupported backpacker can best a supported runner on a longer record without the aid of vehicles or minders. I like to compare it to a mountaineer climbing without supplemental oxygen. The thing I am the most proud of is that our form of travel has a much smaller carbon footprint than a record set with the aid of 2 vehicles and 12 minders. I started to contemplate the impact of my selfish pursuit of speed records with consideration to several vehicles following me all the way along a 2,700 mile long trail. Is it worth it? I assumed that a supported record was the next logical step in my pursuit of long distance speed records, but then I realized that this doesn't justify the negative impacts on our planet. Since 2009, I've been committed to low-impact adventuring by human power, or eco adventuring. Now, if I am “racing” anywhere, it is to see as much of the planet and its inhabitants as I can (chiefly indigenous peoples and animals) before they are irrevocably changed. This summer, one of my colleagues in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) pointed out that if you want to see the impact of climate change over a very short period of time, hang out at the extremes. I have lost all interest in speed records now and focus instead on returning as frequently as possible to my birthplace: Alaska. I should have never returned to Alaska last summer on the BLC to Bering Sea adventure because now I want to spend every summer back home!
Erin McKittrick and Bretwood Higman (Hig) are Alaskan adventurers with a love for coastlines and many thousands of miles of Alaskan wilderness under their belts. They founded the organization Ground Truth Trekking to educate and engage the public onAlaska's natural resource issues through human-powered expeditions and scientific data collection. They are accompanied on expeditions by their two small children. Erin is the author of two books on their journeys: A Long Trek Home and Small Feet, Big Land.
Packrafting along Fortification Bluffs. Photo by Erin McKittrick.
I've heard them called whistle-pigs. Or bear milk duds. Marmots are responsible for the piercing whistles that burst out from boulder piles along many an alpine ridge. They are the fuzzy, chubby guinea pig-like rodents, posing on rocky ledges. They are almost unreasonably cute. And we spent our whole trip searching for them.
Of course, the marmots were only a footnote. We walked and packrafted for three and a half months, tracing a line of 800 miles along the shore of Cook Inlet
with our two-year-old and four-year-old children. Cook Inlet is the heart of modern Alaska. It has Native villages and Russian villages, hippie towns and tourist traps and Alaska's biggest city. Cook Inlet is our home. It's also home to oil rigs and natural gas plants, coal mine proposals, wind turbines and tidal power proposals not to mention endangered whales, abundant bears, salmon and melting glaciers
. Lastly, it's home to most of Alaska's population, and hundreds of miles of nearly unpopulated wilderness.
And, quite likely, coastal marmots.
Why did we care? Truthfully, I wasn't sure at first. Hig
: "There's a researcher who's really excited about us looking for coastal marmots around the inlet. Says our trip is perfect for it." Erin
: "Is there even any such thing as a coastal marmot?" Hig
: "Well, I know there was one that lived at White Rock Beach when I was a kid, but I always thought he was kind of a fluke." Erin
(shrugging): "I guess we can keep our eyes out."
Jordan Holsinger is the newest member of the ASC team. He joined us as the Outreach Manager at the beginning of July after completing his Masters Degree in Environmental Science. Jordan personally bridges the gap between adventure and science as an endurance mountain biker and scientist whose previous research focused on the role of snow depth on plant-soil interactions in subalpine grasslands.
ASC guide Jaimie Walton after a long day of paddling. Photo by Jordan Holsinger.
I've spent time around large things - studying elephants and rhinoceros in South Africa, playing in the peaks of the Rocky Mountain West - but nothing makes you feel small like sitting in a sea kayak being charged by a pack of sea lions (video after the break). Splashing and yelling, the 15-headed monster moved right for our boat and I began to wonder what might happen if they didn’t stop. Then the enormous creatures gracefully disappeared under the water, nowhere to be seen. Only one word is needed to explain and describe it simultaneously: ALASKA (which Gregg always insisted on saying in a deep, raspy whisper).
Light beams above the Ruth Clacier. Photo credit: Carl Battreall
Carl has been spending much of 2013 trekking around the Alaska Range photographing it for his most recent project. Here is an update from Carl (taken from his blog):
I have returned from my latest journey in the Alaska Range. I flew into “Moraine Lake”, the terminal lake of the Backside Glacier. The Backside Glacier descends behind the legendary peaks of the Ruth Gorge, in-between the Tokositna and Ruth Glaciers.
I flew in with Alaska Range Project sponsor, K2 Aviation
, on a glorious and unusually warm day. A heat wave had locked Alaska in a dry, record-setting summer and the day was blazing hot and uncomfortably sunny. This was my first time in the area and I had trouble deciding where I wanted to explore. I had to either go high for the views or head up glacier.
I choose to go high and camped near a small alpine lake. Photographing in Alaska in the summer, near the solstice, is hard. The days are long and the sun stays high for most of the day. Sunset was 11:59 and sunrise was around 4:00. The sky never really gets dark and rarely does that magic, alpine light happen. That was the case on this trip. In nine days I never witnessed any sunset/sunrise colors.
Working in variable, less-than-pleasing light is key to mountain and wilderness photography. Rarely do you have time to wait for the perfect light, the weather changes too quickly or you have to keep moving and work with the light you’ve got. There is always a pleasing angle of a mountain in every type of light, but being on the correct side of the mountain when the light is right is what is so difficult.
Unfortunately the winds did not subside as we had hoped. Lonnie woke up to to -30F and 45mph winds bringing the temperature down to a bitter -72F. Below is an audio update from Lonnie Dupre early this morning in his snow cave.
Lonnie will spend the day “cleaning house” inside his snow cave, digging out his door and again stretching his legs outside his 4×4 snow cave.
We will again keep you posted on the conditions of the weather tomorrow. Meanwhile, remember to tune in to 91.1FM or stream live at Alaska Public Radio
website at 2pm or 7pm Alaska time to listen to Lonnie being featured on Addressing Alaskans. A few days before he departed for Denali basecamp, Lonnie talked about preparing for the solo ascent of Denali in winter and his 25 year career as a polar explorer at REI in Anchorage. Enjoy!
The day started at 5am this morning… milling over weather and trying to decide what to do. The early morning calm winds ended, picking up right as Lonnie was dressed and ready to start the climb to 17,200ft. Unfortunately they were bad enough to prevent him from moving up. The image above was taken on our flyover and is showing a lenticular cloud, sign of high winds, over Mt. Hunter.
We’re constantly trying to get a good read on the weather. It’s tough enough to predict weather here in town let alone on a mountain like Denali. Tomorrow looks better, but we won’t know for sure until early morning whether or not Lonnie will be able to travel to 17,200ft camp.
Lonnie spent the day doing getting a little exercise near his snow cave and then spent some more time on his boots. He wound up taking off buckles for unneeded weight and then tore out the boot’s tongue to make more room for his toes. He’s now in his 14,200ft snow cave getting ready to make dinner and hit the sack.
With only a couple of days from the summit, Lonnie’s enthusiasm is contagious. We’re all anticipating a good couple of days of weather and know that when that happens this climb will be a success. We appreciate all the excitement and support from all of you and will let you know what the day brings tomorrow. Upward!
Lonnie is taking a day off to rest due to high wind and cold temperature. He’s only two travel days away from the summit, but will need ideal travel conditions for these two, very long days.
Dupre remains in good spirits and is well rested now. His toes didn’t get cold because he had made new liners for his boots from his vapor barrier originally for sleeping in. Lonnie said he shouldn’t have to use it from here on out and was worth the trade off for warm toes.
Lonnie will call around 5:30am tomorrow morning for a weather report in hopes of beginning his ascent to 17,200ft camp.
Looking for a good way to support the expedition? Lonnie Dupre spent the last ten years working on his new book, Life On Ice: 25 Years Of Polar Exploration
, which includes a 32-page color insert of extraordinary Arctic images. This book covers 25 years of Dupre’s polar exploration, including the world’s first circumnavigation of Greenland and One World Expedition, a summer expedition to the North Pole that reached 68 million people worldwide. Over the past two decades, Dupre has lived and traveled with the Arctic Inuit, bringing their culture to the rest of the world. He has also worked with and gathered data for organizations such as the National Geographic Society, Greenpeace, the Explorers Club, the National Snow and Ice Data Center and the U.S. Department of Atmospheric Sciences. Wherever he goes, Dupre attracts media attention all over the world. This is your chance to see the inside story on all his expeditions.
We (Dmitri & Stevie) had the excitement of flying over Lonnie today with captain Paul Roderick from Talkeetna Air Taxi
. The picture above is of Lonnie under fixed lines making his way up the Headwall at around 1:30pm. Temperature on the mountain ranged from -50F to -60F with windchill where Lonnie was.
After he taxied his gear to higher elevation Lonnie began his descent. Having had stuck his gloves for a brief moment between his knees, one slipped out and rolled down the Headwall. Twenty minutes later Lonnie was reunited with his lost glove. Unfortunately, he got minor frostbite on six of his fingers from exposure during that time. He said he’s had it before and knows how to maintain it to where it doesn’t get any worse.
Needless to say, Lonnie will not be traveling from 14,200ft to 17,200ft until the winds are more calm or the temperature rises. We’re hoping that happens tomorrow, but will have to wait for a more up to date weather report to know for sure if travel conditions are safe.
Frostbite and all Lonnie sounded very positive and healthy. He enjoyed chicken noodle soup and lasagna for dinner. We’ll give an update on progress tomorrow as soon as we know what’s going to happen with the weather. Upward!
Lonnie made the long haul from 9,600ft to 11,200ft today. Weather included variable winds and limited visibility. None the less he pushed onward. It might have been something to do with spending the last 36 hours stuck inside a snow cave. On the good side, Dupre said he was able to fit in a whopping 15 hours of sleep within that time. Well rested, he started packing up at about 6:30am for his next camp.
Lonnie’s is now tucked away in a new snow cave cooking up a little Mountain House meal.
Tomorrow, with promising weather Lonnie will most likely be moving on.
Right now it’s about -40 degrees outside on the mountain. Lonnie said he can keep his snow cave heated to about 30 degrees and claims it is warm enough for him. Traveling during the day he keeps warm by moving constantly. He only rests and takes his pack off once a day. That’s usually just to get more bamboo wands out of his sled for flagging.
He remains in good spirits and appreciates everyone sending prayers and well wishes his way. Until tomorrow… Upward!