A big thanks to Onx backcountry for making these post happen. Check out the Onx mapping app for your next backcountry adventure and click here to use the app to support your local avalanche forecasters
(WildSnow Editor’s note: I’ve been speaking about this with these guys for months, but we didn’t want to start blogging about it until they were actually on the road. A mission of ours here at WildSnow is to encourage humility with ourselves and our bloggers. Too many expeditions over-hype months before they actually step on the plane or fill up with fuel and roll tires. A goal as big as these guys have set requires chutzpah — but doesn’t need the hype that’s all too common these days. So here is their first post as the tires heat up and they roll to Alaska.)
Ambitious. That is the word I continuously hear when describing this trip to people. “You are trying to ski Mount Hunter, Foraker AND Denali? In one trip? Wow. That’s ambitious.”
We know this will not be easy. A lot of hard work will be needed. And a lot of luck. But why not go for something big? Even if we are only end up skiing off one of the peaks, that is a proud accomplishment. If we get lucky and get all three though, we will have done something amazing. We’ll do it by working together, planning with care, pushing hard when we should and holding steady when things don’t stack up. We’ll have enough food and supplies for almost two months on the ice — the hardest part might be the waiting. Perhaps it’ll come together in weeks instead of months…but who knows?
Jordan White was with Lou on the 2010 Wildsnow Denali trip. He is a regular contributor here at Wildsnow. He lives in Aspen where he is a ski guide and bartender.
Evan Pletcher worked on Denali as a guide with Mountain Trip two years ago. While working he only got as high as 17 camp, never summiting. He is excited to go for the top of the mountain he spent so much time on. He also lives in Aspen where he guides and is a patroller.
Aaron Diamond spends his winters in Jackson and the Grand Teton National Park. He spends the rest of his time either working at home in Pennsylvania, or as a ski guide at Ski Arpa in Chile.
And I, Anton Sponar, also live in Aspen where I ski guide and work in a restaurant to make money for trips like this. This will be my first time on the Kahiltna Glacier. I am excited to test myself on the biggest peaks of North America.
The idea for this trip came simultaneously to three of us. Aaron and I hatched the idea while at Ski Arpa last summer. When I got back to Aspen Jordan came to me and said he had this idea to ski the “Big Three” of the Alaska Range. Shortly after, we had Evan hooked after telling him of the idea while sitting around a campfire in Moab.
Then the work began. Permits were acquired for the beginning of May. All of us have been on lengthy expeditions before, so we had a lot of our own gear. Luckily we got some help for things we needed. Dynafit outfitted all of us with sized-up boots. Intuition got us some nice warm liners. Honey Stinger helped with energy foods. BD filled in the gaps for tents. Bern got us some shiny new helmets. Thermacell heated footbeds will be keeping our feet warm (thanks Mike Marolt!). Benzinger sent us a case of wine, just to keep it classy out there. Oh, and Lou spent a day trying to rebuild one of his pulk sleds so we wouldn’t destroy it, and set us up with the WildSnow Iridium satphone so we can blog the trip from anywhere, especially Hotel Kahiltna!
After all the gear was amassed and tested, we were ready. Everything (including the four of us) just barely fit into Jordan’s Tacoma with two big ski boxes on top, and we started north. I am now writing this from the very small back seat of the truck somewhere in Alberta, Canada. For the next six weeks or so we will be blogging via Wildsnow from the Kalhitna. So make sure to check back to see how we are faring. For all you Instagram users make sure to follow us for more pretty pictures. @asponar @jaywsss @evan_pletcher @mustache_man13 and of course @wildsnow.
Wish us luck. We will check in soon!
(WildSnow.com guest blogger Anton Sponar spends winters enjoying the skiing ambiance of the Aspen area, while summers are taken up with slave labor doing snowcat powder guiding at Ski Arpa in Chile. If Anton didn’t ski every month of the year, skiing would cease to exist as we know it. He sometimes spells Nunataq as Nunatag.)