Fourth of July on the Icefield

by Danielle Beaty

 Waking up to a socked in C-17.

Waking up to a socked in C-17.

I woke up this Independence Day to a completely socked in Camp 17. It wasn’t the typical Fourth of July weather to be expected, with near white out conditions and continual drizzle, but we made the most of it nonetheless. We spent the day traversing across the Lemon Creek Glacier in rope teams of four, and attending lectures about wilderness medicine and virtual field realities that we will help create on the Juneau Icefield.

 Rope team practice

Rope team practice

For dinner, we ate American classics including mac and cheese, baked beans, spam, and homemade bread.  For dessert, we had peach cobbler and cake topped with blue m&ms, powdered sugar and jam to look like the American flag. After dinner, the sky cleared so several JIRPers and I hit the Gnarmigan for tele-skiing under the setting sun (The Gnarmigan is the appropriately renamed Ptarmigan Glacier for its gnarly ski run). Back home, I have a family tradition of skiing Mt. Hood each Fourth of July, so I was happy to be continuing the tradition. The sky was a brilliant orange color, and the view as we skied down was glorious. The snow was like soft spring corn, excellent for practicing my telemark turns.

 The most lovely Fourth of July cake!

The most lovely Fourth of July cake!

 Skiing to celebrate America!

Skiing to celebrate America!


 Lindsey and I prepared a “Fourth of July Dance Party Playlist”, so after the day’s activities were through we cleared the cook shack of tables and chairs, and danced the night away to very American-themed music. Perhaps the highlight of Fourth of July on the icefield was Luna’s rendition of Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” music video, using a climbing rope and prusik hitches whose primary purpose is for crevasse rescue. Though Fourth of July on the icefield wasn’t necessarily traditional, it was one for the history books and my most memorable one yet.

 Dancing like champions

Dancing like champions