Happy Holidays 2016!

Whether you’re exchanging gifts, enjoying a meal with friends, or out on an exciting adventure, we wish you all the best this holiday season!

Happy holidays from St. Elias Alpine Guides!

Please enjoy this fun video of our senior guides (Jason, Scott, Anya, Bryan, and Sarah) showing off their dance moves while participating in a Secret Santa gift exchange!

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Guide Spotlight – Bryan Kerr

backpack mountain guideIf you’re walking across the Root Glacier and see a Cleveland Browns helmet off in the distance, you might be spotting SEAG’s own Bryan Kerr. Originally hailing from Ohio, Bryan was introduced to rock climbing while in college, and quickly took off with the sport. Enjoying the mental and physical challenges it provides, he began to expand his climbing experience from the world of vertical rock to ice and alpine climbing. Since then, he’s also taken up skiing, and spends his winters in Park City, Utah, as a “professional” ski bum.

A die-hard fan of all Cleveland sports, Bryan shows his colors with his climbing helmet, painted to match that of the Browns, and he receives weekly sympathetic looks from his co-workers when the NFL season starts in the fall.

Since he started working for SEAG, Bryan has been fascinated by the mountains of Alaska and the adventure that they provide. He can be seen guiding glacier hiking and ice climbing trips out on the local Root Glacier, and also can be found in the backcountry, where he can share his love of backpacking and mountaineering with you. Whether Bryan guides you across the ice, snow, or alpine tundra, he’s sure to fascinate you with his knowledge, stories, and sense of humor. When he’s not out exploring his local mountains, Bryan can be found scarfing down impressive amounts of food, tinkering with gear, and rooting for the Cleveland Browns.

So next time you’re in McCarthy, keep an eye out for that orange helmet – maybe you’ll be lucky enough to have Bryan as your guide!

Posted in Guide Spotlights

Polar Bear Plunge – Tips and Suggestions

If alaska polar bear plungeyou’ve had the pleasure of joining us for a hike or climb out on the glacier, undoubtedly you walked past some of the stunning pools of crystal clear blue water on the ice. Hovering right at 32 degrees (or 0 degrees, for our friends across the pond), these blue pools are as cold as they look.

glacier swimming alaskaAgainst our better judgement, we are always finding excuses to take a glacial dip, with adventurous travelers joining in for the fun. Over the years we’ve discovered a few suggestions to help make your icy swim a little more – ummm – comfortable. Check ‘em out:

  • Bring an extra pair of wool socks, and wear these on the swim. This is primarily for looks (nothing looks better than wearing wool socks with your bathing suit). A secondary benefit is that these socks protect your feet from the sharp glacier ice as you climb back out of the pool.
  • Go quickly. If you give yourself time to back out, you’ll never jump in. Before you get the chance to think about it, jump in. Remember – the sooner you jump in, the sooner you can get back out.
  • Don’t forget to breathe – the cold water can take your breath away. Stay calm, and take a nice slow breath. Don’t forget to smile for the cameras!
  • Bring a small towel. Microfiber ones work great, but even a small hand towel will do the trick. You’ll feel much warmer as soon as you get out of the water and dry off a bit.
  • And lastly, make sure you have someone taking pictures or a video – you don’t want to jump back in again for the camera!

swimming on alaska glacier

Posted in Tech Tips

Dave’s Denali Sandwich

tent among glaciersThis recipe has been a long-time favorite of our guides, and was recently voted “Best Backcountry Breakfast” by the 2016 SEAG guides. It’s simple to pack, easy to make, and provides lots of energy to last you all day on the trail. Brought to us by the legendary Dave “Staehl-Dogg” Staeheli (30-year mountain guiding veteran), this breakfast has been fueling Alaska climbers for decades.

Give it a try on your next adventure!

Ingredients (per serving):

  • 1 bagel
  • 2 strips of pre-cooked bacon (we recommend Costco pre-cooked bacon)
  • Cream cheese (you can buy cream cheese packets at Costco that keep well for long trips)
  • Extra butter to keep the pan nice n’ greased


Directions:

Fry up your precooked bacon 1 serving at a time in a frypan, shallow pot, or a pot lid. Set bacon aside. Toast the bagels, 1 serving at a time, in the bacon fat (add extra butter for maximum deliciousness). Pro tip: hold the pot a few inches above the stove and move it often to prevent burning. Once bacon and bagels are appropriately toasted, put cream cheese on both bagel halves, put the bacon in the middle, and fold it all together into a sandwich. Dig in.

This breakfast takes a little more time than your average oatmeal, as you can only make 1 serving at a time, but in our opinion, it’s well worth the wait.

For our vegetarians, replace the bacon with dried mango slices for a sweeter sandwich!

Bon Appetit!

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Tao of the Garbage Bag

Alaska glacier hikingBy Ethan Moorhead

There is no greater single issue facing outdoorsmen, irrespective of where on earth they play, than how to keep their dry things dry. An unanticipated storm or slip during a creek crossing can leave feet clammy, sleeping bags useless, and the whole trip ruined. Be it boots or rain jackets, the gear industry is constantly striving to find newer and better ways to keep us away from the elements and more comfortable. But the good news is that they found a solution for many of these problems years ago: the black garbage bag.

Guiding in Alaska drives home the importance of dryness on a daily basis. Our frequent days of slow but constant rain will seep through even the best hardshell layers and Gore-Tex boots. Momentary stops on glaciers will soak through the bottom of a pack, and our creeks run fast and cold. But despite all this moisture constantly trying to get us down, a black garbage bag will save the day.

Rather than buying an expensive pack-cover (that will likely not fit if you have an ice axe or other gear strapped to the outside of your pack) simply line your whole pack with one black bag and you are set! Sure, your pack will get wet, but it will not soak through to your gear, and it costs practically nothing. Stuffing your sleeping bag and clothes inside their own secondary trash bags makes a system that will keep your gear dry even if submerged.

These lightweight and very compressible multitaskers are worth shoving in your pockets to use for other odd-jobs too! Got a leaky tent or ground cloth? Lay the bags under or over your sleeping bag to keep it dry all night. Need an emergency raincoat? Cut holes for your head and arms and enjoy the newest fashion. They are indispensable as layers in a hypothermia kit if someone gets too cold and you can even fill them with your trash at the end of the trip!

Don’t get me wrong, I love Gore-Tex as much as the next guide, but when it comes to keeping my backpack and gear dry, I shirk the expensive dry-bags and go straight for plain black garbage bags. However you use them, their low cost, low weight, compressibility, and complete waterproofness all prove that one man’s trash bag is a backpackers treasure.

Posted in Tech Tips