Super excited to reveal the limited edition version of the book. Only 150 copies of this version will be printed and they are going fast! This book also comes with the print, Middle Triple Peak, 2015. This image will only be available with the book. Once the edition is sold out, the image will be retired, never to be printed again!
If you want one of these awesome collector books, consider pre-ordering one. Many of them have already been purchased (through our Kickstarter campaign and directly from me). I cannot guarantee any will be left when the book becomes available in late October.
The cost of the limited edition book-print set is $200.00 plus shipping. You can order one directly from me, just email email@example.com
First, I must apologize for the lack of activity. Its been a busy winter, but not a lot of action outside in the mountains. Still trying to recover from my hip injury that occurred over a year ago. Fortunately, being injured has allowed me to focus on getting the book details complete.
We are in the final stages of the process. All the essays are complete and edited. layout is complete and I just sent off my high resolution copies of the final photographs. We will have one more thorough review, looking for any missed issues before it is sent off to get printed!
The Mountaineers Books feels confident the book will be in stores and into YOUR hands in October.
Mark your calendars for the big book launch party November 28th at the Bear Tooth Theater, it is going to be a ton of fun!
Want to join me in the Alaska Range? We still have spaces left during our July 30th-August 2nd, Denali National Park, wilderness photography workshop. Fly with me into a remote location, in the heart of the big mountains, where we will explore glaciers, rivers and epic mountain scenery! More info at: http://www.alaskaalpineadventures.com/alaska-adventure-tours/hiking/hiking-trips-denali-national-park/denali-unexplored-photo-safari/trip/43
Thanks for all your patience and support!
There isn’t a cluster of mountains in the Alaska Range that holds as much mystery and intrigue as the Revelation Mountains. When I look up the statistics for this site, the most popular search term is”Revelation Mountains”. And yet with so much interest, there is very little information about this mighty anchor of granite spires at the far western corner of the Alaska Range.
My first visit to the Revelation Mountains was in June of 2006. Six of us did a long backpack along the western edge, over rolling tundra and below towering monoliths. It was one of the best backpacking trips I have done in Alaska, rivaling the mighty Arrigetch Peaks in the Brooks Range.
In 2006, beta about the range was completely vacant. The only written information I could find was in old American Alpine Journals. The most prominent entry was the legendary 1967 Harvard Mountaineering Club expedition. The six members, which included David Roberts and Alaskan Art Davidson, spent 52 days struggling up peaks and enduring mind boggling bad weather. Many of the named peaks like: The Angel, South Buttress and Golgotha, that appear on USGS maps, can be attributed to that expedition.
I learned early on that the Babel Tower, which is south of, the South Buttress, had obviously used its power of “confusion of tongues” and totally scrambled the mind’s of the map designers. The names on the maps are all mixed up. The 1:63 maps are correct but the 1:250 maps are completely off.
In 2008, the young Alaskan alpinist, Clint Helander, made his first expedition into the Revelations, making a bold first ascent. He has climbed in the range every year since. Clint has become the guru of Revelations climbing and the Revelation Mountains recent surged in popularity can be directly linked to his many, wild exploits. If you have questions about climbing in the Revelations, he is the man.
The area’s remoteness has contributed to its mystery. Access to the range is difficult and expensive. The range is also unfriendly to visitors. The terrain in very rough, glaciers are broken and littered with debris, rivers are milky, swift and cold, the alders are relentless and plentiful. For non-climbers, the only pleasurable terrain, is along the perimeter of the range, especially the west side. The backpacking there is superb, on easy tundra, with lots of wild critters. We enjoyed sharing the landscapes with bears, caribou and countless ground squirrels.
The Sled Pass area has some limited options, it is a beautiful spot, but you quickly get “cliffed” out or must endure endless, character building bush-whacks. Pack-rafts have been used to escape the endless bushes. The far north side looks promising, but access is unknown, and so are the mountains there. If you are looking to truly disappear in Alaska’s mountains, the north end of the Revelations is the place, you just have to get there. The heart of the Revelation Mountains is a place for experienced mountaineers, many of which, have been completely crushed by the mountains there.
Summer access is either by float-plane (if your going to backpack along the west side), Super Cub on tundra tires or the almighty helicopter (TAT has one now!). If your climbing, you want to go in winter or early spring, when there is plenty of ice plastered to the crappy rock. Ski landings are possible on the majority of the glaciers, until mid-May or so.
If the thought of travelling in one of Alaska’s most remote and pristine mountain regions intrigues and terrifies you, you could consider going on a guided trip with Alaska Alpine Adventures, the only backpacking guide service with real experience in the Revelations Mountains.
Thanks to everyone for all your support, it was an amazing process.
Here are some statistics:
172% funded (percentage above our minimum of $9,000)
The video was played 988 times.
So now what?
I have made my initial selection of 200 images that has been sent to the Mountaineers Books. They have begun the layout and design process and will make their initial selection of images. I will visit them in Seattle in a few weeks where I will help with the final image selection and also give my input on the design and layout.
From there we will continue to hammer through design ideas, ruthlessly edit the essays and work on the maps. I will make the final tweaks on the selected images. When we have all agreed on a book we all love, it will be sent to the printers. We will get a proof first, this is how we will catch any typos, design issues and poorly reproduced images.
Once the proof is approved the book will get printed, bound and sent to The Mountaineers Books distribution center in Seattle.
This process will take many months. We plan to see the book on the shelves late summer, 2016. This is when we will ship all the books to the backers of the Kickstarter campaign.
This blog/website will be getting an over haul. Don’t worry, it will not go dormant. There are plenty of peak profiles and images to share, along with photography and wilderness tips. Once the book is printed, this blog/site will be the center of all the action, letting you know about upcoming lectures, exhibits, book signings, workshops and hopefully reviews and awards!
So if you want to stay in the loop, follow the blog!
Thanks again for all your support and for making this long over due tribute to the Alaska Range a reality.
We Need Your Help!
The photographs are finished, the essays have been written and the designers over at Mountaineers Books are busy working on the layout. We now need to raise the final funds needed to get this book out to the world!
We have started a Kickstarter campaign and need your help in spreading the word. I am offering tons of great rewards including: copies of the retail book, prints, an awesome limited edition print-book set and even a backpacking trip in one of my favorite places, the Delta Mountains of the Alaska Range!
10/30 – 24 Hours to Go!
We are at 160%, totally amazing! can we get to 200%?
10/5 – We Did It: We Past Our Minimum Goal!
Not only did we reach our minimum goal of $9,000, we rocketed right by it! The book will be published! I can’t express how grateful I am for everyone’s support. In five days we raised over $9,000 for the project and we have 25 more days to go!
So lets keep the good vibe going. We are not being greedy, we can use every cent we can get. First we can use the extra money to cover the Kickstarter fee, which is between 8-10% of the total. Then we will use extra money to cover costs of the rewards. After that, it all goes to the book. We can print more of them, increase its distribution (hopefully to Europe) and if we raise a lot more, increase the physical size.
So thank you for making this long over-due celebration of the Alaska Range come to life!
The Alaska Range project has always been about celebrating one of the great mountain ranges of the world. I have always known that in order to truly do the Alaska Range justice, I would need to collaborate. This book is less about my photographs and more about Alaskans sharing the legendary Alaska Range with the world.
Seven great Alaskans have agreed to write a series of essays on the Alaska Range. Each one has spent a significant time in the Alaska Range and has a great appreciation and love for the mountains, glaciers, wildlife and wild plants that make the Alaska Range so special.
The essayists include:
I am honored to have their words accompany my images.
My stomach ached, a combination of hunger and anxiety. The clouds were creeping lower down the monoliths, the wind gust were increasing in velocity. After four days of relentless weather, a window had opened, an escape from the clutches of the mountain gods was revealed, but our chances were dwindling. We had packed our bags, waiting for that unmistakable sound, the roar of an approaching plane.
After thirty Alaska fly in expeditions under my belt, I was highly aware of the plane waiting game and my mind was so familiar with that sound, that it had began to recreate it, knowing how desperately I wanted to hear it.
“I think I hear something.” I projected loudly to Sy. But there was nothing. Defeated, I began to unpack and prepare for another night of being shaken and stirred in our tiny tent. But then, the lion roared.
The Kichatna Mountains are legends. I had heard of them long before moving to Alaska. I listened to stories and dreams told over fire and beers. My big wall climbing friends were always planning a trip, but never committing, the Kichatnas were to be celebrated and feared. When I moved to Alaska, I met very few people who had ever set foot on their glaciers. A few years ago I flew around them and was blown away by their steepness. It is said that the Kichatna Mountains have the highest concentration of granite spires in Alaska, and I have no doubt about that. The spires of the Kichatna Mountains are so densely concentrated that flying around them didn’t do them justice. I don’t like aerial photography from above the mountains. I like to be eye level, mid mountain, which isn’t possible in the Kichatnas, the valleys are too narrow. So the only way to really experience the majesty and boldness of the peaks and to capture their true nature was to be in mountains.
I had hesitated for many years on going to the Kichatnas. They are very remote and a flight there is expensive. But the main reason I resisted their power was their unfriendliness towards visitors. The Kichatna Mountains are the prow of the mighty, central Alaska Range ship and take the brunt of all the weather coming from both the south and the west. The winds in the mountains are said to rival the notorious winds of Patagonia. Extended tent time is common for all expeditions. Alaska: A Climbing Guide reads: “Prepare for only three pleasant days in thirty of horizontal rain, sleet and snow. The Kichantas are a ornery bunch.”
We landed on the Tatina Glacier on a perfect day. We knew it was special weather because Paul, our pilot, was enjoying the scenery and taking pictures. We could tell he would have preferred to join us that day and we could feel his unhappiness about leaving the mountains.
We made camp in the amphitheater at the head of the Tatina Glacier. Granite exploded out of the glaciers in every direction, with the mighty North and Middle Triple Peaks dominating all the others. That afternoon we explored the valley and icefall below the north face of Flat Top Spire. The next day was a little hazy but still calm and clear. We skied up over Monolith Pass, the most impressive pass I have ever been over. Imagine three El Capitan’s towering above you, so close together you feel like you could throw a rock between them. The peaks of the pass are Mount Nevermore, North and Middle Triple Peaks.
On the third day we descended Tatina Glacier. Our plan was to go down and around to the Cul-De Sac Glacier, spend a day or two there and then to the Shadows Glacier to get picked up. The descent was long, but enjoyable with great skiing. My new, rigid sled system worked great but Sy had a lot of trouble with his set up. At the bottom of the glacier was a large frozen lake. We decided to camp there. My leg was hurting after the long descent (this chronic condition is still bothering me!). The scenery was nice and it was obvious there were lots of animals that used the area and I was hopeful that we might get to photograph some wildlife, but we had no visitors.
The next day we crossed over to the Cul-De Sac Glacier and gradually made our we to the base of the mighty Kichatna Spire. The Kichatna Spire was hidden under a cap of grey, swirling clouds. It would remain that way for the rest of the trip, I never got a chance to see it in its entirely.
We set camp up under worsening conditions. The wind came in rushes. You could hear it coming right before it slammed you down. The next four days were a lesson in patience as the wind continued without a break. We kept in contact with our pilot who continued to ask how much snow we were getting? Denali, 50 miles to the north was getting hammered, with over three feet of new snow at base camp. But we were only getting wind, relentless wind.
Saturday, our pick up day arrived. A huge “sucker” hole lingered above, triggering a sense of hope that we might get picked up, but the wind refused to submit, it was determined to keep us hostage. We spent the day repairing walls, napping and watching the red, low battery signal on our ipods, trying to guess which song would be our last.
We emptied our thinning food bags and began the process of rationing food. We had passed the option of skiing out, we definitely had to rely on the mechanical bird for rescue, the question was, how long could we stretch our food? Actually, the more concerning part was whether we had enough fuel to melt water?
We experimented with using black bags and sleds to melt water, which worked with limited success. The next day was much of the same. My nerves were on edge. Unable to travel or photograph in the conditions, stuck waiting for pick up, with limited supplies, was wearing me down. Sy continued, as always, to be up beat and unphased our predicament, laughing at my dwindling patience and pessimistic outburst. We could see the summits of most peaks and the valley was clear. However, our pilot said it was raining in Talkeetna and when he looked towards the Kichatnas, all he could see was low, black clouds. We could sense that he was not believing that we were having favorable weather. I am sure they have been tricked by many, desperate climbers.
We spoke with the flight service in the afternoon and they said they would give it a try. We prepared the runway and packed up all but the tent. Sy skied around and I sat with my camera, making poor, uninspired images of the amazing peaks. Hours passed as we watched the clouds lower and felt the gusts of wind increase, building more strength as if fueled by our desire to leave.
As soon as I began unpacking I heard a noise. The wind I figured. Then again. Loud then soft. And then the unmistakable, beautiful whine of a plane engine bounced off the granite walls. We both went into the “plane is coming” frenzy, I rushed to take down the tent, Sy rushed down runway to pick up the sleds and bags after the plane landed.
At times the trip seemed like an eternity. I was disappointed with my attitude, the mountains had worn me down, my leg was still hurting, my project was nearing its end and i felt helpless, unable to control my life.
The flight away from the mountains is often a time of reflection. There is a great, overwhelming release, followed by sadness. I have yet to understand why the mountains play the tricks they do with my mind, why they can sometimes repulse me with their weather and yet fully engulf me with their beauty.
No matter how terrible or amazing my trips are in the mountains, as soon as I am leaving, as soon has I am above them, heading back to civilization, I am plotting my return.
“No flights today.” she said on the phone. This was our second day of waiting and our allocated time for adventure was slowly vanishing. We either had to give up on the trip or find an alternative. The central Alaska Range was choked with dense clouds and was getting pounded by high winds, there wasn’t much of a chance we would ever get to fly into the Eldridge Glacier, so if we wanted to salvage this trip, we needed to travel in on our own.
I suggested one of my favorite places, the Delta Mountains. I had heard there was plenty snow and the area would be less crowded now that the infamous Arctic Man was over. Neither Brad or Neil had ever been to the Delta Mountains, so it was decided, ski tour through the Deltas.
The night before leaving Neil spoke with some USGS employees that had just returned from the Gulkana Glacier Research Hut and said there was a perfect trail busted and plenty of fresh snow. They also mentioned that the hut was unoccupied and that we were welcome to stay there a night or two.
Monday we made the long, five-hour drive to the area known as the Hoodoos, near the toe of the Gulkana Glacier. We drove up the plowed road that led to parking and camping area for the Arctic Man event.
Under warm skies we loaded sleds and made quick up work up the river and then onto the glacier. I had been (still am) suffering through a nasty groin-hip problem and after about four hours of dragging sleds up the glacier, my leg was ready to call it quits. Neil was blazing a trail and it took work for Brad and I to catch him. After some discussion we decided to put up camp above the lower Gabriel Icefall. By the end of dinner, the weather had begun to change, a stiff wind picked up and grey clouds drifted in.
The next morning we woke to low, swirling clouds. We knew that the USGS cabin was about two miles ahead of us. It sat precariously perched on the bottom of a rocky ridge. We could occasionally see the ridge, but it would constantly disappear. The smart thing to do in those conditions, would be to hang tight and wait for an improvement in the weather. Purposely heading out onto the glacier, in whiteout conditions, would be an obvious lapse in judgment and yet, before I knew it, that was what we were doing.
Guess you could say we had cabin fever. The siren song of an old, dilapidated structure was too hard to resist, so we pushed into the white void. The conditions gradually got worse. And like and man coming out of a coma I thought to myself, “What the hell are we doing?” I pulled out my compass and tried to get a bearing off the ridge that the cabin was on, but it was too late, it had vanished.
Being in a whiteout is a strange feeling, especially for the lead person. You have no reference, no idea if you’re on the edge of a cliff or on flat ground. Your mind begins to play tricks and you start to see things: rocks, bumps, hills, things that aren’t there. But your mind is so desperate to find something it recognizes, that it ultimately creates things.To your partners behind you, you look confused as you wanderer aimlessly. They have you and the rope as a reference, so they will constantly yell, “why are you going that way?” . This can all lead to tension amongst the team.
As soon as tensions began to rise, we got smart and stopped and dug into the glacier to get out of the wind and blowing snow. We decided to sit and see if things improved. If they didn’t in an hour or two, we would set up camp.
Just when we started to get chilled and began to contemplate setting camp, the hut magically appeared. It was less than a quarter mile away, right above us. We quickly packed and made the slog up the steep slopes to the tiny USGS Hut.
The USGS Gulkana Glacier Research Hut is used by both the USGS and the University of Alaska Fairbanks as a emergency shelter for scientist and students. It has room to sleep two, three if someone sleeps on the ground, which Brad graciously volunteered to do.
Within a few hours the skies would clear and we would have four gloriously clear days in the mountains. We did have some high winds on the upper slopes, but it was hot when sheltered from them. We spent two days exploring the endless ridges and icefalls that are scattered throughout the area. The skiing was perfect, six inches of thick powder on top of a stable, deep base.
I took one day off to rest my aching leg while Neil and Brad went bagging peaks. They had a fun time on steeps slopes and chunky, thigh burning powder. I never like to spend too long in one place so we finally said goodbye to our comfy little abode and skied down glacier. We explored the upper Gabriel Icefall and had a an amazing ski down, the hero snow made me feel like I was a good skier. We put up our final camp at the base of the icefall. The final day was a brilliant ski on perfect snow, making turns with ours sleds, something that is rarely successful!
I was bummed not to get to the Eldridge Glacier, one of the only large Alaska Range glaciers I haven’t visited. But is was a successful trip; great skiing and good friends in some of my favorite mountains in Alaska!
I promise I will get trip reports from my last two expeditions up soon. I have two things to keep you entertained until then.
I was a recent guest on the popular Alaska Public Media show Outdoor Explorer. This was my second time as a guest on the show. This time I was talking with Charles, the host, about wilderness photography. Dan Bailey was the guest on the first half of the show, I am the guest on the second. You can listen to it here:
Alaska Magazine has published a seven page portfolio from the Alaska Range Project in their latest issue (June 2015). I have been a contributing photographer to Alaska Magazine for over ten years. My work has appeared in 15 different issues including three featured portfolios. Thanks again Alaska Magazine for all the years of support!