In 2001 a friend of mine was skiing at Salal Creek, a trip I sadly couldn’t make with him, and when he came back he had a strange tale to tell. He said while he was there, three backcountry skiers stopped by the hut on a traverse. When asked where they were going, they said “Alaska.”
This trio had already completed the 10 or so day Misty Icefields traverse, and were on the second leg of the longest and most daring modern traverse in Canada. Sure, early explorers had less gear and logistics support, and went further, so in one way there is no comparison. But in the goal to cross a huge amount of geography, self propelled and in one sustained push, these guys had the same spirit as MacKenzie and other early explorers.
If you’ve never heard of them, you’re not alone. In the understated way that was typical of the hard men and women of the time, they did it without fanfare and publicity, and seem to have done little self promotion about the feat since. If you want to read more about that trip, I recommend the excellent article over at Mount.ai/n published last year.
The trip hasn’t been tried since (to my knowledge), but recently another group announced their intentions of launching a similar attempt; The Traverse the Coast expedition. In keeping with the modern sensibilities they have a blog already set up, and you can follow them on Twitter. Read about it over there.
I contacted some of the members of the expedition, Ryan and Erica and offered them my services to make maps for the route. Since I’ve done a few, much smaller (10 day), ski traverses, and because of my general backcountry experience I know that mapping is an extremely important part of a trip like this, especially since so much of it is in terrain that very few people will have been to.
And, as readers of the blog know, I’ve been writing a tool designed for just this kind of adventure; TrueNorth. Since we’re in beta now anyway, I decided that this would be a perfect test for it’s ability to produce expedition maps.
Over the next few days I’ll be making those maps, and I’ll try to post a few examples of them, and the route, while the rest of the team does the final preparations for the trip.
It will be a busy few days, but for now I’d like to offer the group the best of luck.