Craig Medred

Neither snow nor wind nor volcanic ash nor economic calamity, it would seem, can stay mountaineers from the slopes of North America's tallest peak.

Though Alaska's summer tourism economy now looks on the verge of a major recession, the National Park Service is expecting another busy climbing season on Mount McKinley.

Chief mountaineering ranger John Leonard figures 1,000 to 1,200 climbers will venture onto the mountain in May, June and July.

"We're looking pretty normal,'' he said Monday, noting that all of the companies permitted to guide on the slopes of McKinley are reporting they are booked solid...

Craig Medred

With his best friend's life hanging in the balance, 24-year-old Greg Nappi skied through the chill darkness along Eklutna Lake on Thursday night and into the morning Friday as if his own life depended on getting help.

Only hours earlier, Nappi and Joe Butler had been enjoying the start of a spring ice-climb on the west face of The Mitre, a 6,551-foot peak that rises above Eklutna Glacier in Chugach State Park.

For the two men, the climb was to be one of their last together before they headed off to work as guides for the climbing season on Mount McKinley.

Then Butler slipped, a miscue that sent him tumbling and skidding more than 1,000 feet.

How it happened still isn't clear. Details remained sketchy Friday afternoon...

Craig Medred

What began as a pleasant hike to Rabbit Lake in the Chugach Mountains above Anchorage on Tuesday turned into an ordeal for three men who discovered how quickly the spring sun can turn firm, snowy trails to near-impassable mush.

After wallowing for hours and soaking themselves in the process, Joe Sinclair, Ben Bacher and Will Curtis decided to call 911 and ask for rescue, Bacher said. Helo 1 from Alaska State Troopers eventually plucked them from near the 2,500-foot level on the southeast side of McHugh Peak at around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday...

Craig Medred

SHIP CREEK VALLEY -- There was no missing the moose kill. It was almost in the middle of the trail not many miles below the Arctic Valley Road. The wolves had been thorough in their consumption.

Often this is not the case, but this time there was not much left -- a pile of hair, the chewed end of a scapula, half of a broken femur with the marrow gnawed out. The moose appeared to have been small, probably a calf born last spring. It was likely still tagging along with its mother when the fates of the wild caught up with it.

Beyond the edges of civilization, this is the way the world works. The rules of nature are simple. The weak die mostly, and most of the weak are the young...

Craig Medred

Skittish about the possibility the summer could bring a tourist bust, outdoor-related businesses of all sorts were offering deals, deals, deals at The Great Alaska Sportsman Show this week.

Halibut and salmon charters that have edged up over $150 in recent years were being discounted to under $100. Gear of all sorts was on sale for 30 to 50 percent off. Lodges were slashing prices.

The Big Eddy Resort of RW's Fishing on the Kenai River offered a "Stimulus Cabin Fever" special of 50 percent off lodging and salmon charters on a space-available basis for May and August.

There is a simple reason why...

Craig Medred

As if it weren't painful enough to lose two canine traveling companions to hypothermia during this year's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, Wasilla's Lou Packer now finds himself publicly accused -- in the absence of any evidence -- of somehow causing the deaths of two additional dogs.

The animals-rights group PETA has sent a press releases to media across the country saying it has a confidential "whistleblower report" indicating the dogs belonging to Packer died after he dropped out of the race. The organization has asked the Alaska State Troopers to investigate...

Craig Medred

Amid continuing concerns about avalanches, Alaska State Troopers allowed a search for the body of 35-year-old Yancy Flair to resume in Johnson Pass on Thursday.

Snowmachiners, skiers and snowshoers are being asked to avoid the north Johnson Pass area while recovery efforts are under way.

The 35-year-old owner of two Anchorage tanning salons went missing after his snowmachine was caught by an avalanche on Saturday near the confluences of Divide and Center creeks on the Kenai Peninsula, an area of the Chugach National Forest east of the Johnson Pass Trail.

It was closed to snowmobiling when Flair was caught...

Craig Medred

Gov. Palin, please stop wasting my money.

One thousand, five-hundred dollars per carcass is too much to pay to kill wolves in order to try to boost the size of the Fortymile caribou herd.

Normally, I don't complain about state spending. As one of the beneficiaries of the most socialist government north of Venezuela, it seems a bit silly to whine too much about where all the oil money goes. Maybe if I was a shareholder in Exxon or BP and the dollars that provide for state services were coming out of my pocket, it would be different. But I'm a little too green to own oil stocks...

Craig Medred

As an evil cold settled over the Innoko River country and the winds roared across its wild desolation, Blake Matray knew his Iditarod dream was dying, and he let it go.

In a tent he'd pitched in the lee of his dog sled, Kim Darst, a fellow rookie in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, huddled in a sleeping bag with a dog near death from hypothermia. The woman from New Jersey needed Matray's help to save the 8-year-old husky named Cotton...

Craig Medred

GIRDWOOD -- Fog on Friday followed the blizzard on Wednesday that followed the volcanic eruptions that began on Sunday as Mother Nature continued to play havoc with attempts to stage the U.S. Alpine Championships here.

Both the men's and women's super-G's had to be canceled due to poor visibility. It was the third straight day weather prevailed over racing -- downhill training runs on were canceled Wednesday and an FIS downhill race was canceled Thursday.

Today race organizers will try to stage downhill training runs in the morning and downhill races in the afternoon, but more snow was falling Friday night.

The super-G has yet to be rescheduled...

Craig Medred