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Alaska Life

Our Alaska: Climbing into the unknown

  • Author: Craig Medred
  • Updated: July 6, 2016
  • Published January 29, 2012

For some adventurers, it's not enough to conquer one of Alaska's well-known climbing peaks, like Mt. McKinley or Mt. St. Elias. For some, it's less about the difficulty of the climb and more about being the first -- and for that, sometimes mountaineers have to go even more remote.

For one group of climbers, sponsored by outdoor sportswear company Patagonia, that meant a late-winter trip to the Arrigetch Peaks, a rocky spine of mountains buried in the Brooks Range, above the Arctic circle.

In this video, climbers Tommy Caldwell and Hayden Kennedy tackle the first climb of an unnamed rock face, while filmmakers Corey Rich and Dane Henry documented the experience.

"Generally, on most of the trips I've been on, you go somewhere, you have a topo(graphic) map from somebody who's been there, and at least some idea of what's possible," Caldwell says in the video. "Here, it was just completely exploratory -- I mean, no trails, we didn't see another trace of another human being up here. And that's cool. It added a real spirit of exploration to this trip."

Astute viewers will notice that the pilot dropping the climbers off near the remote Alaska community of Bettles is Jim Tweto, COO of Era Alaska and one of the stars of the reality television show "Flying Wild Alaska." Two episodes in season two of "Flying Wild" simultaneously documented the climbers' travels from Unalakleet to Bettles and then up the mountain, then back again.

The heavy documentation of the trip is just another example of the way technology is making the vast Alaska wilderness a little bit smaller, and letting all of us go along on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Check out the original video page here, or view it on Patagonia's hosted page here.

Our Alaska takes a look at the people, places, activities and wildlife that make Alaska great. There's the Alaska that many people know from reality television, and then there's Our Alaska. If you have a video that puts the spotlight on the positive, educational or unique aspects of Alaska and its people, send links or submissions to ben(at)

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