NOLS Alaska Mountaineering – Day 24


Hello from the East fork of the Susitna River!

It was a long hard day, but I’ll admit I’m quite happy to see green plants and sleep on solid ground again. We started the day by waking up at 8:30am, and packed up camp after breakfast. Leaving around 10am, we walked down the glacier, losing about 2,500 ft in altitude. Also we were travelling much faster than expected, seeing as it only took us two hours to get off glacier.

After more than two weeks on ice and snow, the smell of vegetation is magical. There was a large lake off of the toe of the glacier that was gorgeous, and even had some patches of violet and pink flowers nearby.

Also see: the line from where the melting glacier used to be!

We stopped there and rested for 30-45 mins, and I finished up my piece of cornbread and enjoyed the scenery. Next we had to find this WWII era airstrip somewhere along the gravel bars at the edge of the river. We thought it would be easy, but it ended up being more like finding a needle in a haystack.

After 3.5 hours of searching, we reconvened and the instructors took out a GPS to find it. About 20 minutes later they returned saying it was just South of our position, but there was an unexpected river (from late summer snow melt) between us and the landing strip.

So we did another river crossing, found the strip, and set up camp nearby. While we were pitching the tent, everyone noticed a curious caribou who was spying on us nearby! I tried to grab my camera, but it ran off before I could get a picture.

Afterwards, we had a vote for who should be the small group leaders (Evan and Will won), and then we had dinner. Actually it was more of a feast since we had a ton of food to get rid of before tomorrow’s re-ration. During the feast we decided on our small student groups, and mine is Evan, Geoff, Eric, Emil, and Ian. We decided on our route, which included a hard hike the first day, an easier one with a pass to an alpine lake on the second day, resting at the like for our third day, hiking to camp in a patch of forest near the meetup point on our fourth day, and an easy stroll the fifth day to the meetup point. I’m so excited for this part of the trip, and think it will be so cool to be our own group away from the instructors. Also we will get another tent at the re-ration tomorrow, which means each tent will only house 3 people, which means more space! And we’re giving up a ton of group climbing gear which will bring down the weight of our packs.

Next we had our final first aid class, and Andy pretended to have a spinal injury for us to fix. It was funny because we kept accidentally hitting him in the face with his own hands while trying to roll him onto a sleeping pad. It took a few tries, but we finally got it right. After class I made some carrot cake for my tent, and then we decided to hit the sack.

My feet are tired after a long day today, but I’m really excited about tomorrow’s re-ration, and our student expedition! Only one more week until I get to share this with everyone, and I hope all is well at home. This experience is so much fun, and I definitely want to do more in the future!


NOTES (7/12/09)

Head Injury


  • Change in LOR
  • Seeing stars
  • Amnesia (short term)
  • Headache, dizziness or tiredness

Severe S/S

  • DIC (Disoriented, irritable, combative)
  • Seizures
  • Ataxia
  • Loss of consciousness


  • Rest
  • Monitor LOR

Spinal Injuries


  • Pain/Tenderness
  • Obvious injury
  • Altered distal sensation
  • Paralysis
  • Respiratory difficulty


  1. Stabilize
  2. CSM’s
  3. Figure out long term stabilization
  4. CSM’s again
  5. ABC’s
  6. Call for evac

<- DAY 23    ||    DAY 25 ->

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