In December I introduced you to Mark Stevens in a 2010 photo taken at Dick Proenneke’s log cabin on Twin Lakes, deep in the heart of Lake Clark National Park. I immediately received a whole host of questions posed like “what kind of adventure trips have you guys done together in last 10 years?” So here’s a starter!
In late August of 2009, Mark and I embarked on an ambitious 12-day backpacking/mountaineering/packrafting traverse of the remote Revelation Mountains in western Alaska. As the venerable David Roberts wrote in the American Alpine Journal account of his 1966 expedition into this area, the Revelations “…are so remote that they may not even be visible from inhabited land.” As soon as our bush pilot bounced down on the gravel bar of the Lyman Fork of the Big River, I knew that this, my third expedition into the range, would end up one of my best Alaska trips yet. Our route would take us into the gut of the northern portion of the range – up the Lyman Fork Glacier, over a steep pass, down onto the Fish Creek Glacier, across another glaciated pass, down and off the rather spooky Hartman Glacier, and into the stunning tundra country of Sled Pass. We’d then inflate our lightweight packrafts for an uncertain descent of the Stony River, eventually reaching our bush-plane pick up on a gravel bar 40-miles downstream.
I took this shot at the very top of pass one and our third camp of the trip. 50+ years of climate change had significantly altered the surrounding landscape, thus rendering our 1954 topographic maps almost useless. Our first indication was the glacier on the east side of our pass (beyond the left side of the photo) had pulled back some 300 vertical feet – leaving in its stagnant wake a dangerous 40 degree slope of unconsolidated boulders perched upon the upper icy slopes of the Fish Creek Glacier. Rather than tackle this uncertain descent 1000′ down through dark shadows and onto the Fish Creek Glacier late in the day and physically exhausted, we opted to pitch camp. While I normally try and avoid camping at the apex of any col like this (think exposure to wind & weather), on this night all was kind and the location was too spectacular to turn down! The next morning we descended the sketchy slope in bright sunshine, left pass one behind, and embraced the full commitment of our traverse through the inner sanctum of the Revelation Mountains.