Photo Gallery: Flight from Juneau to Camp 10

By Stephanie Streich

[NOTE:  Click on any of the images below to open a slideshow with all photos and captions.]   

JIRP is FINALLY Happening!

By Jamie Bradshaw

While writing this, I am sitting in The Cook Shack at Camp 17 listening to Pink Floyd while the cooks are planning lunch and our fearless leaders are setting the route for the Norris Cache, our first move to Camp 10. Once the route is set and the weather softens, the first trail party will hit the trail. Fortunately, I am in the first trail party and this time I will have first dibs on sleeping arrangements! I am really looking forward to seeing new sights and I am pumped to endure what I have been told is the most physically and mentally challenging part of the icefield traverse. Another reason why I am so excited to arrive at Camp 10 is because I know just how good the view is. Unlike the other students, Camp 10 is not a complete mystery to me. If you followed the 2012 JIRP blog, you may remember my post from last summer about my fortunate flight to Camp 10

Jamie and “Blue”, the trusty JIRP Suburban, on their way to Atlin, BC, Canada to continue JIRP logistics in 2012.  Photo:  Jamie Bradshaw

I first heard about the program nearly three years ago when enrolled in a Glacier Surveying Field Methods course offered by Mike Hekkers at the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau, Alaska. I was immediately intrigued. In 2011, I was lucky to be able to spend time with the JIRPers while they were in Juneau for a week. I hiked to Herbert Glacier with them and showed them our surveying sites on Mendenhall Glacier.  Last year, I saw the Logistics Agent position for JIRP was available. I decided to apply for the position because it would be a great way to support JIRP,  get involved and I figured it would give me a unique perspective of JIRP in hopes of participating as a student in the summer of 2013. You could say that I had the “JIRP bug”.

Nearly all of the JIRP mystery is removed for me because of my logistics position last summer. I understood how the food, supplies and mail get here, I knew what many of the camps look like and approximately how long we spend at each camp, I knew how meals work and how day and multi-day trips work and I knew of the joys of Atlin, BC. I also knew three of the students participating prior to JIRP, I knew the staff members and many of the guest lecturers from previous JIRP experiences. Most of the time I really appreciate my JIRP background because I can answer many questions that students have and I can prepare myself for upcoming events. Other times, this background takes some of the excitement of the unknown away from me that the other students have. Needless to say, I am very thankful to have this JIRP knowledge and to have the unknowns of the routes from camp to camp!

While coordinating logistics in Juneau last summer, I read the blogs, flew to Camps 10 and 18, and saw how close the students and staff grew. I was honored to be a part of the JIRP family, but I wanted to learn and grow with everyone on the ice. I knew that JIRP would be an amazing experience and I anxiously awaited the summer 2013 season to begin. On the hike up to Camp 17A, I kept saying to myself “ I can’t believe this is finally happening!”  So far, JIRP has been everything I have imagined it to be!

Jamie on the upper Lemon Creek Glacier overlooking the Dead Branch of Norris Glacier; where, after three years, JIRP is really happening!  Photo:  Jamie Bradshaw

Tied to a String

By Stephanie Streich, Photos by Mira Dutschke and Jeff Kavanaugh

Chrissy McCabe, Alistair Morgan, William Jenkins, Adam Taylor and others practice their knots at Camp 17 on the Juneau Icefield.  Photo:  Mira Dutschke

At Camp 17, students have been roped in and all tied up, becoming familiar with various knots. A critical part of our daily routine has been learning and practicing the knots that are crucial to travel safely on the icefield. The Figure-8, the Butterfly and the Double Fisherman are just some of the knots that will protect us against the dangers of crevasses and ice caves that are hidden within glaciers. The Prussik knot and the climbing harness are sometimes the only lifeline that attach you to the other members of your trail party as you travel across this vast white wilderness of snow and ice. Before we expose ourselves to the real life dangers of the field, we developed our climbing skills in a safer and warmer environment: the kitchen.

Climbing ropes hanging to dry in the cookshack at Camp 17 on the Juneau Icefield.  Photo:  Mira Dutschke

For practice all the students piled into the cookshack to climb up ropes attached to the ceiling. Using the knots we learned, we used two Prussik slings and attached them to the ropes and our harnesses. I have to admit, I was pretty hesitant to get up the rope as I was standing in line waiting for my turn. I was unsure if two skinny strings attached to a rope would actually hold my weight and enable me to elevate myself high into the air. Once I got attached to the rope I realized that the harness did a lot of the work for me, and I started having a blast. The harness loops around our waist and legs, linking us to the main line with a carabiner. With a long Prussik for the legs and a short Prussik from the harness to the rope I was able to hoist myself up the line. It was a great feeling of relief hanging in thin air by a string, gradually climbing up, knowing that I was not going to fall down. It was so easy! Climbing was definitely not as difficult as it seemed watching my fellow JIRPers tackling the rope. Getting down, however, was another story and quite a challenge. It would be rare to need to Prussik down a rope, but I'm going to have to work on that.

Author Stephanie Streich at the top of the rope after practicing with her prussiks in the camp cookshack.  Photo:  Jeff Kavanaugh