Mint Glacier

In early May I joined students from Alaska Pacific University for nine days in the Talkeetna Mountains. This was part one of a 23-day expedition mountaineering course in the APU Outdoor Studies program. Our goal was alpine climbing skills. The venue was the Mint Glacier, nine miles up the Little Susitna River. My co-instructor was Heather Thamm, an Alyeska ski patroller and veteran of many APU trips. 

Having science degrees, and scientist parents, I'm inherently skeptical of climbing mountains for college credit. This trip adjusted my attitude. The eight students were super-driven to learn and possessed that intense passion for the mountains. A mentality I can relate to. 

Snow began falling as we climbed to the Mint Glacier on day two of the approach.

It snowed for two more days, dumping four feet of gluey snow.

But we didn't get bored. While it dumped, we covered:

  • avalanche companion rescue

  • snow anchors

  • rock anchors

  • ice anchors

  • rappelling

  • rock rescue

  • emergency shelter

  • risk management plan

  • guide professionalism

  • track setting

  • downhill ski guiding

  • quick pits

  • belayed ski cuts

  • LNT

To burn energy, we pumped laps on the hill by camp. The popular ski technique was to lean back and point it. 

We finished up most days with rowdy bouldering sessions. Here's Ryan Gould cranking the featured Talkeetna granite edges. The deep snow made an ideal crash pad. 

When the weather cleared, Kenny suggested a burly objective on his limited edition 3D map. 

Touring up the Mint Glacier while working on glacier travel and rope management skills. 

Gil above the Mint Glacier.

Pitching up the side of the Mint Glacier while working on alpine belays, station management, alpine anchors and multi-pitch technique. Left to right are Geoff Box, Gil Carr, Emma Walker, Ryan Gould and Kenny Steck. 

Bace Poplawski rapping with saddlebags while Heather climbs to the anchor. 

Ryan psyching up to rap from a slung horn. 

Thanks for an incredible trip! Sign me up anytime for another APU course. You're my kind of people!