Bagley Ice Field, AK
With an invitation to the middle of nowhere, Jeff Hawe hops a bush plane with Jeremy Jones, Ryland Bell, Lucas Debari and a hardy support crew to Alaska’s remote Bagley Ice Field. Bergrschrunds, avalanche debris, mountains of dire consequence and down days in tentropolis make for good living.
It’s cold—incredibly freezing cold. The kind of cold that burns the nostrils with each breath. The clouds cleared overnight releasing the warm air blanket under which we’d fallen asleep and effectively delivered a 5:30 am blue sky alarm. It’s time to get moving—quickly. The past seven days of slow mornings and cloudy weather aren’t helping this sudden shift of gears. If lucky I’ll get a bowl of hot oatmeal down prior to hitting the skin-track. If not, it’s a Clif product breakfast while struggling with frozen-sausage fingers to tie rock-hard boots and cinch up harness straps. It’s funny that we have started to refer to our month on Alaska’s Bagley Ice Field “good living.” At this particular moment good living seems miles away, at best waiting for me back in my sleeping bag.
I strap in and start skinning. The bite of the morning eases away as my blood begins to thaw and flow. Jeremy Jones, Ryland Bell, and Lucas Debari are already at the base of the 1,000-foot spine wall that dwarfs our camp and are transitioning to climb it. Morning sun illuminates the freeride amphitheatre where we have built a temporary home and it becomes apparent: this is good living. The early orange light paints golden highlights and deep purple shadows across the aptly-named “Camp Spine Wall...”