The Assignment

Ranging nearly seven million south central Alaskan acres—of which 30 percent is ice-locked--the Chugach National Forest is a raw, sprawling, gulf-shored wildlands. Its mountainous ramparts span an area 250 miles long by 60 miles wide, rocketing from sea level to Mount Marcus Baker’s 13,000ft in a mere 10 miles while bristling fourteen additional peaks surpassing 8,000ft along the ascent.

Wild-hearted wanderers endearingly refer to its expanse as “Alaska’s backyard” while powder hounds, specifically, plan by the wintery knowledge that the vast Chugach receives greater than 600 inches of snow annually, more than anywhere else in the world.

This brief rehearsal done, I sit back. I exhale.

The facts, I know, and the training, I have but more, I’m attentive to this: no forecaster or guide, nor the several million dollars worth of 20,000 moving parts which carries me, can offer absolute assurance of what actually happens next…