By Adam Taylor

Jon and Christy reflecting on the mountains as they make memories that will last a lifetime.  Photo:  Adam Taylor

Day 12 of the JIRP experience and the weather has changed quite drastically. The past few days students and staff have seen higher winds and rain which apparently is "more like Camp 17 weather".  But even with the change in weather, morale is still soaring with the eagles and yesterday we were able to dig our first snow pit.  Snow pits are a way for us to study how much mass the glacier is gaining or losing. We have also been skiing, setting up z-pulleys, and learning to safely navigate the icefield. Alongside our safety skills we've also been developing relationships.  JIRP students and staff are forming bonds not only with each other but with former and future JIRP members as well.

Adam Toolanen, Jamie Bradshaw, and Jai Beeman tying knots and friendships that if dressed properly, can last a lifetime. Photo:  Adam Taylor

JIRP students and staff will make friendships and memories that will last a lifetime. Everywhere you look at Camp 17, JIRP members are laughing and enjoying each other's company. And although most of the individuals have only known each other for a short time, they are beginning to form a family. We feel safe and comfortable with each other, which is important when traveling across the icefield. Trust will be needed during our traverse, since the time will come when your life will be put in another's hands.  

I relate the JIRP experience with my time spent in the military. Both experiences are difficult to relate to others if they haven't been participants themselves. The time spent in Camps and on different glaciers will only be shared among the few members on the icefield. When leaving, this connection stays between the students and staff. Stories will be told and memories shared with others outside, but the bonds formed will remain within the family members of JIRP.

Not only are current JIRP members creating memories with each other but they are forming bonds with former and future JIRP members as well. When blogs are posted, the experiences will be read by all; however, only fully understood by those who have experienced it before. I would hope that readers wanting the same connections would view the blogs as a motivator to attend JIRP in the future. These connections do not stop at the blog, they carry over in all aspects of life. When JIRP 2013 is written on a resume, anyone who reads it and has attended JIRP will more easily relate to the experience than those who have not been through the program. 

The memories created and time spent during the Juneau Icefield Research Program will last a lifetime. In addition to the science being done, we are gathering memories alongside data points. My feeling is that five, ten or fifteen years from now the data collected may become a bit clouded but names like Annie Cantrell, Grayson Carlile, and Brooke Stamper will hold strong. Since 1946 JIRP has been creating friendships and will continue to form them into the unforeseeable future. As Scott McGee says, "once a JIRPer, always a JIRPer". This in itself, says it all.

A JIRP trail party settles in for the night at Camp 17A over tuna-macaroni and cheese. Photo:  Adam Taylor