[Time] It doesn't matter, you're at Camp 8 . . .

By Amy Towell, University of Toledo

Camp 8… A place for rest, relaxation, the occasional radio relay and experimentations in waffles…
Camp 8 has one sole purpose: to relay radio calls between the Juneau Base and Camp 18. While the entire expedition is based out of Camp 18, groups of four take turns being stationed at Camp 8 for two nights. It isn’t a terribly long ski (usually four hours) between Camp 18 and Camp 8, but it took us a bit longer due to route conditions on the ridge approaching Camp 8. The snow bridges covering the giant bergschrunds [crevasses that extend all the way through the glacier to the bedrock] and crevasses had collapsed, which made taking the original route dangerous. We scouted a new route with help from Gavin, who was manning the radio at Camp 8 and could see the hazards from above. The other three inhabitants of Camp 8 were also helping on the ice by scouting the new route from the opposite direction. We had to probe extensively, which slowed our pace considerably, since the new route put us between two very large crevasses.

Our rope team, probing our way slowly and safely through the maze of crevasses. Photo: Amy Towell.

Our rope team, probing our way slowly and safely through the maze of crevasses. Photo: Amy Towell.

A view from the top of Mount Moore looking down on C8 and the route through the bergschrunds and crevasses. Photo: Amy Towell.

A view from the top of Mount Moore looking down on C8 and the route through the bergschrunds and crevasses. Photo: Amy Towell.

After an hour of nerve racking zigzagging and navigating over crevasses, we made it to the safety of our new abode on the slopes of Mount Moore. My feet were happy to arrive and be able to rest for a few days, and the group, as a whole, were excited to eat nothing but waffles for the duration of our stay; Camp 8 has the only waffle maker of the entire icefield! Our mission: eat more waffles than the previous group, which ate 14 in total.

Blisters galore. I have been anti-croc for many years, but caved on this expedition. They are actually great for letting blisters air out. Photo: Amy Towell.

Blisters galore. I have been anti-croc for many years, but caved on this expedition. They are actually great for letting blisters air out. Photo: Amy Towell.

Our first order of business upon arriving: make some waffles. We were told that food supplies were low, so we had brought oil, pancake mix, peanut butter, jelly, brownie mix, freshies (broccoli, cauliflower, apples, pears, cheese, hummus and carrots), and probably some other stuff. Needless to say, our packs were heavy! Our first batch was reminiscent of grilled cheese with fresh sliced tomatoes. They were delicious. All the fresh food was a nice change of pace from the canned goods that we typically eat at main camps.

A photographic summary of life at Camp 8: radio, coffee, power stances and waffles atop the roof. From left to right: Danielle Beaty, Bryn Huxley-Reicher, and Avery Stewart. Photo: Amy Towell.

A photographic summary of life at Camp 8: radio, coffee, power stances and waffles atop the roof. From left to right: Danielle Beaty, Bryn Huxley-Reicher, and Avery Stewart. Photo: Amy Towell.

Unfortunately, the weather was quite cold and misty that first night, so we slept inside. On the plus side, we slept great knowing that we were not going to get the standard 0730 wake up call for 0800 breakfast; we were on our own schedule. Our first radio check of the day was at 0845, so we got an extra hour of sleep! I had big plans to nap a lot while at Camp 8, but that did not happen. After our morning waffles (pumpkin, chocolate chip with pears), Dani and Avery climbed Mount Moore while Bryn and I got busy cleaning up camp. There was a large pile of old insulation that had been subjected to the weather for who knows how long. With my handy surgical gloves, I carefully laid out all of the insulation so it could dry and later be disposed of. After the morning chores, Bryn and I got busy washing ALL of our laundry. Hauling our dirty clothes up to Camp 8 also added a considerable amount of weight to our packs, but it was worth it.  

The author amidst the drying insulation and deteriorated burlap. Photo: Amy Towell.

The author amidst the drying insulation and deteriorated burlap. Photo: Amy Towell.

Lunch consisted of broccoli, cheese and cornmeal waffles topped with even more sautéed broccoli. They were fantastic! Just look at that melted, oozing cheese (see picture below). After lunch, I monitored the radio and let my feet rest, while Dani, Bryn and Avery scouted the route we had set the day before. Some of the crevasse crossings had opened up even more, so the route was adjusted slightly and flags were placed for easy navigation. While the gang was out, I received a radio call from Camp 18 informing us that the “fancy dinner” was moved to that night and that we would miss it. We were all pretty bummed since we would have originally made it back in time for the festivities: dressing up, dancing and hamburgers!
 

Our first dinner: cheesy, broccoli waffles. Photo: Amy Towell.

Our first dinner: cheesy, broccoli waffles. Photo: Amy Towell.

We decided to have our own fancy dinner and celebrated by making our best waffles yet. We sautéed broccoli and cauliflower and then mixed that into the batter with cheese. To top the waffles, we made BBQ chicken and two over easy eggs. We had precariously brought two eggs with us with intentions of using them to make brownies. We hadn’t had a fried egg for nearly two months, so they were reallocated for dinner, which really fancied things up. Bryn decided to go all out and made some baked beans and pineapple to top his waffle, too. I literally spilled the beans all over the floor in this process. Cleaning them up actually gave the floor a nice “waxy” shine. We ate our waffles on the roof and completed our nightly radio check-in before hiking up Mt. Moore for the sunset. We felt fortunate to see the sunset because Camp 18 was stuck in the clouds, yet we were above them. We had tried to make brownie waffles for the sunset jaunt, but they didn’t really turn out too well. We spent awhile sitting atop Mt. Moore, taking in the scenery. It is arguably one of the best views from the icefield. With the clear skies, we could see our entire summer traverse, which was super cool and really put perspective on how far we skied this summer. We could see Split Thumb, the peak near Camp 17, where we started. We could see the Taku Towers, near Camp 10. We could see Camp 18 and also the valley where Atlin Lake is situated, where our journey would come to an end in a couple short weeks. We could also see Mt. Fairweather, which is quite far away and impressively large, sitting at roughly 15,000 feet.

Our fancy dinner: A waffle with sauteed broccoli and cauliflower with melted cheese, BBQ chiken, pineapple and an over easy egg to top it off. Photo: Amy Towell.

Our fancy dinner: A waffle with sauteed broccoli and cauliflower with melted cheese, BBQ chiken, pineapple and an over easy egg to top it off. Photo: Amy Towell.

Bryn standing atop Mt. Moore at sunset. Photo: Amy Towell

Bryn standing atop Mt. Moore at sunset. Photo: Amy Towell

That night, we slept atop the roof and were pleasantly surprised with a northern lights show. The aurora forecast was only a three of seven, so we did not expect to see any activity. Bryn and I had never seen them before, so we were in awe, to say the least. Avery, who is from Juneau, said that they were hands down the best three-of-seven aurora he had ever seen and probably the best he had ever seen in general.

The next morning, we climbed Mt. Moore a couple more times (five in total for the duration of our stay) and got busy tidying up camp for the next crew to arrive later that day. We also made our last batches of waffles. One batter consisted of cold brew coffee (in place of water) with chocolate chips and roasted coconut flakes. It was easily my favorite waffle. The other batter consisted of pumpkin, oats, chocolate chips, apple, pear, cinnamon, and brown sugar. It was also delicious. We had a lot of batter so these were also made for lunch before we departed. In the end, our group ate a total of 34 waffles during our stay! We left Camp 8 a bit later than we had hoped for, but our next mission was in sight: get back to Camp 18 for dinner at 1900. We cruised back in a swift two hours and made it with 15 minutes to spare. Mission success!

A Chain of Mentorship

Matt Beedle

Director of Academics and Research

Today is a special day on the JIRP calendar. As you read this, the 2017 JIRP staff team – with excitement for the new field season despite the weather – is hiking to Camp 17 for “Staff Week”. These 12 days of opening JIRP’s first main camp, wilderness first aid training, glacier travel/rescue training, and (let’s be honest) at least a few runs on the Ptarmigan Glacier to test skis and snow conditions, kicks off the field season. It establishes more than physical goals and hard skills, however. The culture, community and camaraderie of JIRP 2017 begin to form today. While each season is unique, there are threads of commonality that span the many generations of JIRP field seasons and individual JIRPers. One of the most powerful threads in each field season is that of mentorship.

We’ve done quite a number of short pieces on JIRP history in recent years (see some of them here, here and here), but a component of JIRP that hasn’t been communicated in particular is the long history of mentorship. Post-JIRP, students regularly comment on the value of having tremendous access to inspiring staff members and faculty. The often cheek-by-jowl conditions of a JIRP camp, skiing for hours in a driving rain, discussion of ideas, problems and dreams allow for JIRP students to get to know one another well. These moments, however, are also shared with faculty and staff, moments that have been shared on the Juneau Icefield for decades. The JIRP story begins in the 1940s, but a chain of mentorship can be traced back in time even further.

John Muir first ventured to Alaska in 1879 for the first of his fabled canoe journeys through southeast Alaska. He wasn’t the first to journey here, as western sailors had been poking into the bays and fjords of southeast Alaska since Chirikov’s voyage of 1741, and the Tlingit people had called this part of the world home for many thousands of years prior. Muir’s 1879 voyage, however, did initiate a western investigation of the glaciers of southeast Alaska, enabled by his Tlingit guides.

John Muir and Reid's team at the Muir cabin in Glacier bay, 1890. Source: National Park Service

John Muir and Reid's team at the Muir cabin in Glacier bay, 1890. Source: National Park Service

On a subsequent trip to southeast Alaska in 1890, Muir spent time in Glacier Bay with Harry Fielding Reid and a team of scientists investigating the dynamics of Muir Glacier.  Reid’s subsequent Variations of Glaciers work would be a foundational effort for the World Glacier Monitoring Service of today. One of the individuals that Reid mentored and inspired was William O. (Bill) Field, known as one of the founders of modern glaciological study in North America. For his 1941 expedition to southeast Alaska, Field inquired with Bradford and Barbara Washburn in looking for a capable field assistant.The Washburns pointed him to Maynard Miller, a Harvard undergraduate who had been on their expedition to Mount Bertha the previous year. Field and Miller’s shared field experiences in 1941 and subsequent years gave rise to this important new direction to explain glacier behavior:

It became fairly clear to us in 1941 that a full explanation was more likely to be found in the upper elevations rather than at the terminus.
— W. O. Field and M. M. Miller, Geographical Review, 1950
Maynard Miller (right) explores the remnants of the Muir cabin in Glacier Bay during the 1941 expedition led by Bill Field. Source: Field, William Osgood. 1941 No Glacier: From the Glacier Photograph Collection. Boulder, Colorado USA: National Snow and Ice Data Center. Digital media.

Maynard Miller (right) explores the remnants of the Muir cabin in Glacier Bay during the 1941 expedition led by Bill Field. Source: Field, William Osgood. 1941 No Glacier: From the Glacier Photograph Collection. Boulder, Colorado USA: National Snow and Ice Data Center. Digital media.

After a few years of aerial reconnaissance and further investigation of the termini of glaciers of southeast Alaska, followed by a first exploration of the “high ice” of the Juneau Icefield in 1948, JIRP the annual field expedition began in 1949. It has continued ever since, and this chain of mentorship has been ongoing, from Field and Miller, to individuals such as Ed LaChapelle, Austin Post, Kurt Cuffey, Christina Hulbe, Steven Squyres, Kate Harris, Alison Criscitiello and many hundreds more. From this annual traverse of the Juneau Icefield, dreams, careers, adventures are launched.

It is challenging to keep track of the inspiring work that recent JIRP alumni are taking on, let alone the many hundreds who have come before them. A part of this inspiration has come from interactions with JIRP mentors: the long ski traverses filled with academic discussions, songs, and stories; the hardships and smiles shared in the field and back at camp; the guidance during the season and in the years that follow. With this view back at the long chain of mentorship through many decades of exploration of the icy corners of southeast Alaska, it is exciting to think of the JIRP staff of 2017. Slowly making their way to Camp 17 today, hiking in the literal and figurative footsteps of the many hundreds before, they are setting in motion the foundational community of JIRP 2017 - the community of staff, faculty and students that will continue this chain.

Note: Thanks to Bruce Molnia for being a JIRP mentor of mine and for pointing out the linkages back in time from Mal Miller, to Bill Field, to Harry Reid, and to John Muir.

Welcome to the JIRP Family

By Annie Boucher and the student alumni of 2015 and 2016

Students usually come to JIRP for either the science education or the promise of adventure (or both). With 16-hour days and seven day weeks spent pursuing both, we hope most leave with a good taste of whatever they sought.  At the end of August, however, when students talk about what they’re most going to miss about JIRP, they tend to look to the people. While we all have more science and more adventure in our futures, saying goodbye to the expedition team is difficult. JIRPers are extraordinary people, and every summer they seem to form a community that is unusual in its acceptance, its support, and its ability to challenge its members to be their best selves.

While every season brings its particular quirks and inside jokes, the program is run along lines of decades-old traditions and surprisingly durable culture. These traditions and culture bind together the JIRP family across years - certainly at any Earth Science conference one will find a group of JIRPers, but they tend to come out of the woodwork on buses, in foreign countries, and, once, the father of a friend whose house I happened to visit for dinner.

This year’s students are taking their first steps towards joining the JIRP family. Soon enough we’ll be steeping them in the well worn adages that provide structure to every icefield traverse: Nature is screaming at you! - Always ski in the snow machine track. - No coupling. - Our priorities, in order, are: look good; look good; go big; look good; safety; and (last) personal hygiene! - Beware the center of the Llewellyn Glacier! - Whatever happens on your traverse, it’s not as bad as the crew that bivvied on the ridge for three days in a white out! - Always carry your ten essentials! - Tape your feet as soon as you feel a hot spot!

As a first step towards welcoming the 2017 crew into the wide open, often smelly, and usually sunburnt arms of the JIRP family, the students of 2015 and 2016 offer up the following advice for preparing and packing for JIRP.

Warning: A few things on this list are contradictory, and many come down to personal preference. Perhaps the first lesson of the Icefield is that there isn’t always one good or right answer, and the only way to figure out what works for you is to jump in and be ready to learn by experience.


Bring a journal, and be vigilant about keeping up with it as much as possible. I was very diligent about writing every evening, and not only did this time allow for self-reflection, but it was also tangible evidence of my evolution as an individual over the course of the program. I still return to my writings when I want to remember a particular feeling, or remind myself of why I care so strongly about action on climate change. I also laugh A LOT when I re-read certain sections, and that alone is worth the extra effort of writing often.
— – Donovan Dennis, student 2015
Bring light shorts, they were the last thing I thought to bring to a glacier so I ended up borrowing them off people!
— – Ellie Honan, student 2016
It's a bit counterinuitive, but you will likely wind up wearing shorts a LOT when on an Alaskan glacier in the summer. Photo: Kellie Schaefer

It's a bit counterinuitive, but you will likely wind up wearing shorts a LOT when on an Alaskan glacier in the summer. Photo: Kellie Schaefer

One thing I absolutely regret not bringing was a small field thermos for tea or hot chocolate.
— - Jacob Hollander, student 2015
JIRP 2015 staffers Annika Ord and Adam Toolanen enjoy an espresso at Camp 26 - demonstrating the luxury of a hot beverage from a small thermos. Although we don't recommend packing the Handpresso and pounds of ground espresso all summer, we sure did appreciate Adam making the effort in 2015! Photo: Matt Beedle

JIRP 2015 staffers Annika Ord and Adam Toolanen enjoy an espresso at Camp 26 - demonstrating the luxury of a hot beverage from a small thermos. Although we don't recommend packing the Handpresso and pounds of ground espresso all summer, we sure did appreciate Adam making the effort in 2015! Photo: Matt Beedle

Begin journaling before you get to Juneau! I wished I had written down the process towards JIRP as well as my time in it.
— – Victor Cabrera, student 2016
1. Bring a backpack fly (aka cover)! They are cheap and worth the money especially if your pack is older.
2. Keep a journal. It’s a great way to make sure you slow down and take some time for yourself each day, and is an excellent way to relive JIRP memories after the summer is over.
3. Not sure if eye masks are on the packing list, but if you are uncomfortable sleeping when it is light outside make sure to bring one.
4. If your rain gear is older, re-waterproof it!
5. Bring a waterproof /shockproof/drop-your-phone-down-a-rock-crack-of-unknown-depth-and-abandon-it-to-the-elements-proof phone case if you bring your phone onto the icefield. (*Note: Riley did get his phone back, but it took a couple days.)
6. Go easy on your skis, they can break.
— – Riley Wall, student 2016
Cheap dry bags will suffice (you can get 3 for $10 at Walmart)! I liked having one truly waterproof one, but was glad I didn’t spend $100+ on the other 5 that I used to organize my gear. Also I would suggest not bringing/investing in a pack cover: a trash bag liner will keep the inside of your pack dry (and your ice axe will quickly shred the pack cover, anyway).
— - Olivia Truax, student 2016
Bring music!! (Note: There may be speakers available for group use that have aux cables. Please don’t bring your own speakers, and you will be expected to abide by JIRP rules on appropriate and safe use of headphones.)
— – Kenzie McAdams, student 2016
Commit to good gaiters or you may very well find your rain pants shredded!!!
— - Matty Miller, student 2016
If possible, thoroughly test the waterproofing of your rain gear in advance.
— - Eric Kittilsby, student 2016
The 2015 mass-balance team readies for their departure from Camp 10 to Camp 9 - in the rain. Note the variety of wet-weather apparel - from full rubber, to Gore Tex, to plastic bags to compensate for a jacket that perhaps isn't as waterproof as desired. Photo: Matt Beedle

The 2015 mass-balance team readies for their departure from Camp 10 to Camp 9 - in the rain. Note the variety of wet-weather apparel - from full rubber, to Gore Tex, to plastic bags to compensate for a jacket that perhaps isn't as waterproof as desired. Photo: Matt Beedle

When booking flights, consider giving yourself a couple extra days in Juneau after the program. (NOTE: This suggestion was seconded by ten others!)
— - Chris Miele, student 2016
Don’t skimp on getting a good pair of sunglasses or a good raincoat.
— – Hannah Marshall, student 2015
It's perhaps impossible to overstate the importance of having good sunglasses for eye protection during a summer on the Juneau Icefield. Photo: Matt Beedle

It's perhaps impossible to overstate the importance of having good sunglasses for eye protection during a summer on the Juneau Icefield. Photo: Matt Beedle

Write down your AGU username and password and bring it with you! Makes the abstract submission a bit easier.
— – Molly Peek, student 2016
If you’re on the fence about buying rubber tips for your ice axe (20 or so bucks) invest! I did and it totally saved my pack cover.
— – Kenzie McAdams, student 2016
My main piece of advice is to bring a bunch of extra plastic bags! A couple trash bag size ones and some ziplocks. Icefield life is so much drier with plastic bags. Also, don’t forget to eat plenty of blueberries on the hike up to Camp 17!
— – Isabel Suhr, student 2015

Are you a previous JIRPer or an intrepid adventurer with advice for the JIRP 2017 cohort? Please chime in on JIRP's social channels with your suggestions for those things that a JIRPer should be sure to have along for the expedition.

The JIRP 2017 Staff!

The individuals that comprise JIRP's field staff are in many ways the heart and soul of each summer. This talented crew is the team that is present throughout the eight-week season, lead safety and logistical training for the students and faculty, lead trail parties and research teams as they traverse the Juneau Icefield, and perhaps most importantly they model what it means to be a JIRPer. In short, they enable everything that happens on the Icefield, and do so in a manner that fosters the incredible community of JIRP. We are fortunate to have such a phenomenal staff team for JIRP 2017!

Newt Krumdieck (Operations Manager):


First a JIRP student in 2008, I immediately felt a deep and unquestioning connection to the people and places that JIRP brought together. Since then I have been returning as a member of the field staff most years since 2010, playing roles ranging from safety staff to carpenter to operations manager. I graduated from Colby College with a degree in Geology, and worked for several years in the sciences, doing research and field work for the NY state geological survey, and then teaching earth science to middle schoolers. Currently I work as a carpenter/woodworker, and spend as much time as I can in the outdoors hiking, biking, skiing, motorcycling, and travelling. JIRP to me is about the ultimate combination of learning, the environment, and most importantly the community. Getting a chance to share these aspects with folks each summer is a privilege I do not take lightly, and continue to enjoy immensely.

Ibai Rico (Safety Manager):

I have been the safety lead and mountain guide at JIRP since 2015. I've been a climber and skier from a young age and now have several new ice climbing routes in Patagonia and the Himalayas. When I am not at JIRP I work as a mountain guide in the Pyrenees, Alps, Norway and the Greater Caucasus. I also deliver snow/avalanche, expedition logistics and risk management courses. I combine my mountain guide activity with carrying out glaciology research in the glaciers of the Pyrenees and Tierra del Fuego (Glacier Change, Glacial Geomorphology, Permafrost and Geo-Hazards).  My last expedition to the Chilean Patagonia was focused on exploring the Cloue Icefield; understanding glacier change and ascending the unclimbed summits in an expedition sponsored by the National Geographic Society.

Guiding JIRP has been one of the most fulfilling experiences; the combination of Nature, Books and Action makes it a completely unique and unforgettable experience for every person in the program.

Incognita Patagonia Project

Basque Mountain Guides

Annie Boucher (Assistant Operations Manager):

My name is Annie Boucher, and I first came to JIRP as a student in 2012. I grew up in Brooklyn, NY, got my B.A. in Geology at Carleton College in 2011, and I'm finishing up my M.Sc. at the University of Maine modeling Alaskan tectonics and glacial erosion. This will be my sixth season on the icefield; in the past I've worked as field staff, taught science communication, and collected field data for my master's research. This season I'll be assisting with logistics and operations management, helping the new staff jump into the swing of things, and filling a couple part-time roles on the faculty. I've been leading trips and working in outdoor education for fourteen years, and I keep coming back to it for the same reasons I return to JIRP: few things in this world give me as much joy as working with a group of motivated and passionate people bent on exploring the big wide world.

Sarah Gotwals (Juneau Logistics Manager):

I am very excited to be returning to Jueanu for summer 2017 for the second time. I was a JIRP student in 2015, and spent last summer working as a logistics coordinator at the Colorado Outward Bound School. Originally from Massachusetts, I graduated from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota this past May (2016). I am interested in everything that "makes science happen" and can't wait to be on the ground with Mary ensuring a safe, productive, and (most importantly) fun summer.

Lara Hughes-Allen (Senior Staff):

In the summer of 2015, I participated in JIRP as a student and returned in the summer of 2016 as field safety staff and helped lead the GPS survey effort. In the winter, I coach the Alpine race team at Northstar California Ski Resort in Lake Tahoe, CA. I enjoy backcountry skiing, hiking, and backpacking with my dog Boomer.

I graduated from the University of Southern California in 2016 with a Master’s degree in Geographic Information Science.  My thesis focused on using remote sensing analysis to quantify changes in the Taku Glacier, specifically equilibrium line altitude, accumulation area ratio, and total glacier surface area from 1973-2015. The goal of this research was to look at how in situ monitoring might be underestimating total glacier loss resulting from anthropogenic climate change. I graduated from Pitzer College in 2011 with a double major in Environmental Biology and Geology.  

Annika Ord (Senior Staff):

I grew up floating between Juneau and my family's remote cabin on the Chilkat peninsula. Exploring and learning from wild places and the people who make their homes there is what I love most. JIRP is a beautiful blend of this -- full of deep belly laughter, immense snowscapes, and inspired learning.

I am super stoked to return for my third season as staff and am particularly excited to  continue helping the botany and mass balance research groups and to lead field sketching expeditions!

When not romping around the icefield with JIRP, you can find me commercial fishing with my dad, sketching a tree, snorkeling in kelp, or trekking around the mountains of Southeast Alaska. To check out (or submit to!) the environmental feminist Selkie Zine I co-created, visit: cargocollective.com/selkiezine

Allie Strel (Senior Staff):

My name is Allie Strel and I hail from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.  These days I am living in Munich, Germany where I am completing my master’s degree in Cartography with a side interest in cryospheric sciences.  My student experience at JIRP in 2015 had me certain that I wanted to come back to the icefield and I am excited to be joining the team again this year for my second season as safety staff.  I can’t wait to see some familiar JIRP faces and to meet all of this year’s new students.  When I’m not at JIRP (and not being a thesis-hermit) you might find me telemarking somewhere in the Alps, flying my kite on a mountain peak, cooking up a mad curry, or inflicting my terrible German on the locals.

Danielle Beaty (Field Staff):

I grew up in the rainy city where hipsters roam (Portland, OR), then made my way to the University of Colorado Boulder where I received degrees in geography and ecology/evolutionary biology. After doing JIRP as a student in 2014, I returned to school to complete an honors thesis on mass balance of glaciers on the Juneau Icefield. I also decided I had had enough of Colorado lift lines and ski traffic so I moved to Juneau, Alaska where I became a glacier/kayak guide. I am thrilled to return to the icefield as staff this summer, and I am excited to have the opportunity to make as great an experience as I had on JIRP for the students this year. I most look forward to seeing all the creative ways students make the otherwise abysmal pilot bread an enjoyable snack with various toppings, and am equally excited for pit talks in the bottom of several meter deep mass balance pits. When I am not JIRPing you’ll most likely find me backcountry skiing the AK pow, ski patrolling, climbing, or wishing there was some way I could own my spirit animal - an orca whale - as a pet.

Evan Koncewicz (Field Staff):

Hello! My name is Evan and I am originally from Upstate New York, right down the street from Newt. I was a JIRP student last year in 2016 and loved it so much I came back as staff! JIRP is a truly unique experience, and personally reminded me of the power of place-based education. I graduated from St Lawrence University in 2015 receiving a BS in Geology. Since graduating I have taught environmental education and skiing in Jackson WY, done JIRP, traveled to Peru, and substitute taught. I enjoy being outside, skiing, exploring the Tetons, following current events, learning, and telling lame jokes. I am super excited to meet you all and share an amazing summer on the ice!  

Mo Michels (Field Staff):

My name is Mo. I’m 22 years young. Last year I participated in JIRP as a student and am beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to come back as part of the 2017 staff team. I grew up in the small town of Talkeetna, AK (a town that truly believed in the maxim, it takes a village to raise a child) where I first learned the value of community. What has drawn me back to JIRP is a similar sense of community – it takes every JIRPer for a mass balance survey – if you don’t know what I mean by this yet you will at the end of the summer.

Over the past five years Juneau, AK has become home. Working winters as a downhill and cross-country ski instructor and getting a bachelors degree in geography and environmental resources. In past summers, I have zipline guided, worked extensively in tourism, and counted salmon for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. I enjoy long treks through the woods, up mountains, and on the water. I am inspired by the look in peoples eyes when they achieve that ‘ah-ha’ moment after they were willing to struggle, to practice, to recognize their strengths and weaknesses, to adapt, and to grow, all just to learn something new.

I look forward to meeting, working and growing with all of you who will create the JIRP community this coming field season!

Mike Staron (Field Staff):

My name is Mike Staron currently from Bend, Oregon. I was a student on JIRP in 2014 and fell in love with the icefield. While not JIRPing I enjoy traveling around the world with other JIRPers in beautiful places in South America. Since participating in JIRP the first time I have developed an obsession with skiing so I converted a van and have been living in it on and off for the past year or so, skiing and climbing around the country (#notanothervan). I’m spending the spring before JIRP attempting to climb/ski all the Cascade volcanoes. I have a B.S. in geology from Keene State College in New Hampshire. For the past two years I have been working on Mount St. Helens as a guide/educator leading people on backpacking trips and to the top of the mountain while teaching them the local geology/ecology. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for JIRP. I can’t wait to help make this the best JIRP season yet!