Ruminations from a JIRP Faculty

Ruminations from a JIRP Faculty

Donald Voigt, Research Associate, Penn State University, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences

Students aren’t the only ones inspired, challenged and stretched at JIRP. As my second season on the Icefield draws to a close, I feel that I am starting to earn my FGER stripes and maybe it is time for my reflections.

I was inspired by the sight of Tadhg coming into Camp 18 on one ski after the failure of his binding on the traverse from Camp 10. Full pack. Big full pack. One ski. He was laughing.

I discovered that Spam is better with Siracha, lots of Siracha. And that oatmeal with Spam is a thing; for supper. Maybe a good vs. evil sort of thing. And I still don’t understand Pilot Bread, an Alaska thing made in Virginia. Like saltines with the nutrition removed.

I was inspired by the constant interruption of our class discussion by ice falls from the Vaughn Lewis Glacier behind me. The subject was the physical properties of ice; go figure. And I was challenged by having to draw the phase diagram of water upside-down on a white board; without a net. Way out of my comfort zone.

 Don Voigt challenging himself to draw the phase diagram of water upside down. Photo by Kristin Timm.

Don Voigt challenging himself to draw the phase diagram of water upside down. Photo by Kristin Timm.

I was dismayed to find out that the fancy new activity tracker I am wearing doesn’t care about the weight of my pack. Or that the 3000 steps I took were more vertical than horizontal. It also didn't seem to work while skiing. But that didn’t seem to matter at the end of the day when talking to friends about the trip and the glories of skiing in the ping pong ball.

I was challenged to keep up with a dozen student climbing up from Heather Camp in 45 minutes to make it back in time for dinner when it took us an hour to make the descent.

And I am always inspired when the student staring off into space, seemingly not paying any attention, comes up with insight that causes me to start making plans for next year’s season on the Icefield.