The first splitboard descent of Mount Bear deep in the Wrangel St Alias mountains of Alaska. Doccumented by 2xsfilms and released as the movie Taming the bear showed in film festinvals world wide.
Deep in the Wrangells!!
In April 2012, i was fortunate enough to be part of a filmed expedition deep in the Wrangell-Saint Elias mountains of Alaska. Our Goal was to achieve the first successful splitboard ascent and descent of Mount Bear.Measuring 4520M it is Alaska's 9th highest mountain peak
We landed in Anchorage and made haste to the well known heliski location of Valdez to sample the Alaskan conditions for the first time. This was my first time heli-skiing, In fact my first time in a helicopter. I was scared for sure, What an experience! Having hiked for big faces my entire life, this seemed like cheating, but as an experience, just WOW!!
As you can imagine, skiing in Alaska is about as good as it gets. The mountains are big and steep and the cold weather keeps the powder fresh. Due to high winds, and very dodgy flying conditions our day was cut short to just four runs, but four runs i will remember for all time. Our budget and timescale didn't allow for a return visit and it was time to start our journey into the wilderness.
Over the first week, with good stable weather we were able to start acclimatising for the climb and create food stashes and plan higher camps further up the mountain to assist in our push for the summit.
Next up was a ski plane journey from the remote village of Mc'Carthy 150 miles into the Saint Elais mountains. We landed on a glacier near the foot of the sprawling mountain range of Mount bear and set about making a base camp. This was going to be our home for the next three weeks.
With over three meters of fresh snow, the going was tough and dangerous as crevases were partially covered and large unstable snow bridging was occurring. Travelling often with pulks, this extra weight can trigger collapse and the result of a fall into crevases of this size unroped is more often than not death.
Our summit day was a tough tough day. We had made a high camp the previous night, 1000m below the summit to give ourselves a smaller final climb and more chance of success as our weather window was diminishing as stormy weather was well on its was.
With overnight temperatures in the negative 30 oC, serious motivation was needed to get out of the tent and start melting the snow we needed to make enough water bottles for the day.
After a grueling climb in negative 40 with serious wind chill, we eventually topped out at around 4pm a week and a half into our expedition.There was no real time to hang around, the sun was dropping and it was getting colder by the hour. We were all suffering from the onset of frost bite. I could no longer feel my feet and the skin on my nose had started to freeze. Julia and Adam were in a worse state than me. After a couple of summit photos for the sponsors we strapped on and achieved our ambition of achieving the first successful snowboard descent of Mount Bear.