Adventures in the St. Elias Range

We’ve been proud to support Pete Dronkers on his adventures for a number of years. This spring, Pete and his team of four, embarked on an expedition to the Saint Elias Range.  Often referred to as The Icefields, this area is the largest ocean of ice in all the world’s non-polar regions, and contains the highest mountain in Canada and the second highest in North America. 
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The idea for the trip spawned from a single black and white photograph in the American Alpine Journal. And from there, the plans led to an exploration and summit of the South Face of Lowell Peak. After 3 days of bad weather trapped at base camp, the team then finished off their journey with a first ascent of Mt. Alverstone NE 5. 



What happens when you’re going stir-crazy at base camp, trapped in bad weather for 3 days? Pete describes how to pass time: 

Finally, after four days of generally sunny weather, the bad weather moved in and trapped us for three days. It was then that I decided to put a long-envisioned dream to the test—to build the most elaborate base camp arrangement of my life. While the others fine tuned their snow block walls, excavated wind driven snow from within them, and built additional walls around the entire camp enclosure, I began digging a snow cave from within the vestibule of our three person tent. By the end of the first storm day, the cave was established. From a 2 foot deep recess from within the vestibule, one side contained a spacious boot cellar, while the other side led down 6 feet deep into a 3 person snow cave, requiring a large snow block step to aid with the descent. The cave became our cook cellar, which was connected to the vestibule and the boot cellar, which was then connected to the tent in a multi-level snow condominium. Fantastic!  

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