Craig Medred

On some things, the Alaska leaders of the oil giants BP, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell agree: The 49th state's oil future remains solid despite today's global oil glut. Any natural gas development will require cooperation among a large circle of interests both in and out of government. And it probably shouldn't be news that the far north operations of three of the world's biggest privately held hydrocarbon businesses are now spearheaded by women. Almost as quickly, too, Janet Weiss, the regional president for BP Alaska; Karen Hagedorn, the Alaska production manager for Exxon; and Laurie Schmidt, the vice president for Shell Alaska, concede that they can understand why others might think differently. It's the history. For almost a century after John D. Rockefeller established the...Craig Medred
State facilities at walrus-covered Round Island in southwest Alaska will be back in business this summer thanks to help from environmental and wildlife organizations from around the country. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game on Friday announced that the Annenberg Foundation, the Alaska SeaLife Center, the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium of Tacoma, the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, the Milwaukee-based Oceans of Fun, the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, and the Pacific Walrus Conservation Fund have chipped in to help fund operations at the Alaska Walrus Islands State Game Sanctuary. Their donations are being combined with a federal grant from the Coastal Impact Assistance Program to provide the funding for research and other activities canceled in the face of state budget cuts driven by...Craig Medred
Telluride, Colorado, ski legend Peter Inglis -- "PI" to his friends -- had just reached the top of what he thought was a 7,000-foot Chugach Mountains ridge in eastern Alaska on Wednesday when the snow beneath him gave way and he fell to his death. What the 54-year-old guide and avalanche expert did not know was that he had topped out not on a ridge line but on a cornice of snow overhanging a ridge line above Tebay Lakes in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, about 200 miles east of Anchorage. "PI had looked at the top and thought it wasn’t a cornice,'' friend Donna Claus said in an email. "He was standing on it. The other guys were spread out below on the slope they came up. It whooshed, and he disappeared over the other side down a wall of rock, taking all the snow that...Craig Medred
Anchorage is heading into what looks to be a spectacular April weekend, leaving avalanche authorities worrying about the possibility some skier might not make it through alive. Sunny weather is expected to lure dozens, possibly hundreds, of skiers to fresh snow in Turnagain Pass about 50 miles southeast of the state's largest city, but dangerous avalanche conditions have developed there. The Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Friday issued an avalanche warning for the pass, Portage Valley, Girdwood and surrounding areas. A foot to 2 feet of snow fell on the area this week. Skiers who hit it early have already encountered danger. One was caught in an avalanche Wednesday on a peak called Magnum near the southwest end of the pass. "The slab depth was 2 to 3 feet deep and...Craig Medred
Alaska reality TV shows generally reek at depicting the real Alaska, and they are one of the best investments -- if not the best investment -- the state of Alaska has ever made. Those two fundamental truths cannot be denied. Reality TV might make Alaskans look like freaks, outlaws, misfits, dunderheads and more, but all of those shows make Alaska itself look like a big, wild and free place anyone living in an city anywhere might want to visit some day. Night and day, almost every day, the shows bring Alaska into homes across America to remind people that we are here, and that, "Hey, Alaska looks like a strange and scenic place I might want to visit." And now the state is getting ready to kill the film subsidy that lured TV producers north to make Alaska part of this everyday American...Craig Medred
A guide for Ultima Thule Lodge in the heart of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve about 350 miles east of Anchorage has died in a skiing fall, according to the National Park Service. Peter Inglis was on the cornice of a peak near 7,000 feet altitude southeast of the outpost community of Chitina on Wednesday when he either fell through or the cornice broke. A cornice is a comb of snow formed by the wind atop a ridge line. Mark Keogh, a spokesman for the park service in Copper Center, said details on the accident remained sketchy Thursday. Rangers were at the scene of the accident investigating what happened. It is unclear if Inglis died in a fall or was buried in an avalanche of snow when the cornice gave way. The park service reported that Paul Claus, owner of Ultima Thule and...Craig Medred
Some bears are already out of hibernation in Alaska, and others will be out soon, which has the Alaska Department of Fish and Game warning that it's time to be bear aware. In a Thursday press release, the agency noted that Gov. Bill Walker has proclaimed April "Bear Awareness Month" and warned that though only a few bears are out of their dens now, more are likely to emerge any day. Southcentral Alaska -- the area around Anchorage where most of Alaska's population lives -- has experienced an unusually mild winter and is facing an early spring , which might encourage some bears to emerge from their dens a tad early. “I’ve heard rumors that a bear or two have been seen around Anchorage and Eagle River,” said state wildlife biologist Dave Battle in Anchorage. One grizzly bear has already...Craig Medred
The news coming out of the Alyeska Resort in Girdwood on April 1 might have sounded like an April Fool's Day joke, but it wasn't. Maybe it was just the word choice of marketing director Eric Fullerton, who emailed Anchorage media to say they should c'mon down "to help share the good news about winter arriving at our resort." Winter in April? All of this comes, of course, on the heels of the winter without winter in Alaska's largest city. The National Weather Service on Wednesday reported Anchorage was about 50 inches behind the norm for snow in March and on record to produce the least-snowiest winter in the city's history, grim news for local fans of winter sports. Things have been equally grim at Alyeska , about 35 miles southeast of the city. The state's biggest ski area, Alyeska has...Craig Medred
Brutalized and beaten but somehow unbowed by the 46-degree-below-zero cold, deep snow and the overwhelming desolation of the Iditarod Trail through the heart of unoccupied Interior Alaska, Tim and Loreen Hewitt flew home to Pennsylvania more than a week ago to nurse their cold-weather injuries. Loreen's badly frostbitten thumb was swathed in bandages after a visit to the Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage. Some of her other fingers were swollen and blistered from frostbite. Tim's feet looked like red, overstuffed potatoes and his hands mimicked those of Loreen, sans the black thumb hidden beneath gauze. They ate breakfast somewhat hamfistedly in Anchorage last week, their injured fingers clumsy with the eating utensils as they talked about an Iditarod Trail Invitational race...Craig Medred
KOYUK -- Heavy snow and blowing winds that piled it into drifts along the Bering Sea coast had the leaders in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race slogging it out on the way to the coastal village of Elim on Monday night. Race leader and defending champ Dallas Seavey from Willow continued to cling to a lead of a hour and a half or more over chasing Aaron Burmeister from Nome, but it was slow going for both teams. Satellite trackers on their sleds showed the dogs often making only 5 to 7 mph. They would normally be doing 8 to 9 mph. Last year, on the way to an upset victory, Seavey made the 50 miles run from Koyuk to Elim in just a shade over five and a half hours. As of 10 p.m. Monday night, he'd already been on the trail five hours and was still about 12 miles out of the checkpoint. At the...Suzanna Caldwell,Craig Medred