Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Intro to Rock and Ice Climbing

Ever wanted to learn how to rock and ice climb? Here at UAF we offer just such a class. The class has 4 outings to experence climbing on real rock and ice. Along with that the class meets on a weekly bias to climb on the on-campus ice and rock walls, where we practice climbing techniques and anchor building. Offered in the second quarter of the spring semester, this class trasitions seamlessly from climbing on frozen waterfalls to warm rock crags, due to the short Fairbanks springs.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Panorama With the Mountaineering Class

It started out as a very snowy morning as everyone groggily got all their gear ready for the climb up Panorama peak. We loaded up the vehicles and started our drive down the Parks Highway only stopping at the Miner's Market to get delicious breakfast sandwiches. After satisfactorily stuffing ourselves we continued on our way and marveled at how much the weather had cleared up during out drive. When we arrived at the peak we gathered up our gear again and hiked our way over to the base. We strapped on our crampons pulled out our mountain axes and started our assent. It was fantastically warm, with a nice view of the surrounding area. After much huffing and puffing the summit was achieved. To everyone's dismay the summit was shrouded in clouds. We then carefully picked out way back down steep slopes. After everyone gathered back at the vehicles wet with sweat and smiling from the accomplishment, we took off back to the University with a quick bathroom break at Miner's Market and concluded the trip on a successful and happy note.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

White Mountains Ski

Last Sunday we gathered up our back country skis and made our way out to the beautiful White Mountains trail system. We were expecting a brisk -15 degrees and overcast skies but were pleasantly surprised to find that it was fantastically sunny and about 0 degrees. Skiing out onto the summit trail we crested the ridge and stopped for lunch taking pictures of the far off mountains. There was much laughter as we got started again and several of us fell in the snow. Connecting into the the ski loop we skied through the pines knocking off snow as we went. Then connecting into the Wickersham trail for a pleasant easy finish to the relaxing and sunny day. As an extra bonus we stopped at the Hill Top Truck Stop for some DELICIOUS pie!

Ice Wall Open Climb Days

March 10-11

Attention UAF community! The Ice Wall is open! The Ice Wall hours will be Saturday and Sunday from 10am-2pm. No experience no problem; we will have instructors present to show you the ropes. All equipment will be provided free of charge. This is free of charge only to current UAF students. With any further questions please contact Sam Braband at 474-6306 or

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ice Wall Open House

On Friday, February 24th the ice wall opened for the first time to the public. As an event for the Winter Carnival Outdoor Adventures hosted an ice wall open house. This event was free to the public and included complete outfitting of all crucial ice climbing gear. There was a great showing of people of all skill levels, and aside from the diversity of skill levels, laughter and smiles where throughout.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Stanpede Trail Ski

Made famous from John Krakauer's book and later Sean Penn's movie the story of Christopher McCandless and his adventures have been awe inspiring to all. The Outdoor Adventures hosted a trip in February to ski the first part of the now famous trail that leads out to the bus that signifies the end all
of his journey. The day of the trip could not be any better. Perfect high

20's degree weather and with the sun bright and amazing
visibility. The view of the Alaska Range was picture perfect as too the smiles on everyone's face as the back country ski, to some a new experience and others as enjoyable as ever. To all who took part, thanks for a great day and hope to see you soon on other Outdoor Adventure trips.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Nenana River Day Trip

Last weekend we did a day trip on the Nenana River from the grassy knoll put in to Kingfisher take out in Glitter Gulch. Our vessels included a raft equipped with an oar frame and an inflatable kayak. This stretch of twenty-two river miles makes for a great day trip. At the start the water is pretty flat which gives us some time to warm up and go over paddle commands. Before too long we hit our first rock garden, and it only gets more exciting from there. We end the day with a couple of sets of class three rapids and respect for the river.

With a small group, just four of us, we were all able to try the inflatable kayak out on the river, which is a very different kind of adventure when we are used to being on a raft. Everyone had fun, learned something new, and no one fell in. We hope more of you get the chance to join us on the river next time!

We are still hoping to collect some pictures from our participants, and they'll be on our facebook when we do. so keep an eye out if you are interested.

Lily Grbavach

Chullitna River Raft

A few weekends ago we set out on an awesome adventure to float the Chulitna River from the bridge over the East Fork, to Talkeetna. This swift water river runs through a whole variety of land scapes from tight deep canyons to spread out braided valleys. Where we put in the East Fork is a narrow, clear, rocky and shallow river. It wasn't long before we joined some other forks and rivers. The Chulitna becomes much bigger, silty and has many fun obstacles to navigate. It provided us with many learning opportunities, and the perfect platform for a stellar trip!

We did some lessons on how to row in the oar frame.
We learned about local flora and Fauna.

Ate some really great food!

And so much more!!

After four days on the river you realize what great experiences you've had. We saw a black bear from a distance, a number or eagles, some huge salmon swimming up river, and the most well organized beaver dam I have ever seen. From camp we had glimpses of the huge mountains around us including Mt. McKinley. Best of all we did all of this with an exceptional group of people with a great sense of humor, a creative mind for riddles, with some fun stories to tell, and an amazing eye for birds and bugs.

At the end of the trip, when we took out in Talkeetna, the group spent some time wondering around the down town area, and enjoyed some awesome pizza before the long drive back to Fairbanks.

This was a great trip with an awesome group! I look forward to running this river again for Wilderness Welcome because every time we do a river trip we have fun and make new friends.

Lily Grbavach

Friday, July 8, 2011

Tok River Float-Hike-Float

On the advice of a friend I recently signed up for my first Outdoor Adventure trip even though I’ve been at UAF for several years. What I discovered along the way was more than just a great way to spend the 4th of July in the beautiful Alaskan wilderness, it was an experience that allowed me to make new friends, push myself physically and make memories that I will keep for the rest of my life.

Day 1 at O’dark thirty we set off from UAF towards Tok over 200 miles away. We arrived later that afternoon and after a quick shuttle trip to the take-out point we launched into the murky rain-fed Tok River. The water was fast and full of logs and debris from weeks of heavy rain. I’ve done plenty of river canoeing before but almost no kayaking so it was an interesting experience to say the least. At the start of our trip we made it several miles downriver until we were assaulted by a brutal hail storm that pelted us with pea sized hail, soaking some of us and most of our gear. Undaunted, we persevered through the storm until it cleared. After a relatively calm half a day’s paddle we reached a lovely sand bar and made camp where we ate a delicious dinner of broccoli and beef with rice. S’mores and Jello No-Bake Oreo Pie followed.

The next day we made-way 300 feet downriver where we beached and went on a hike to the Eagle Trail state recreation area. Here our group split up and “some of us” went for a vigorous hike up a steep mountain trail to the summit while others in the group went along an informational nature hike and got to see some indigenous Alaskan orchids and got some great pictures! We met back up at the bottom of the trails, filled our water bottles and made way back to our kayaks and canoes for the next leg of our journey which took us several miles downstream to our next campsite. That night we enjoyed a dinner of wild mushroom couscous with sautéed chicken and veggies. Dessert was apple pie and cream cheese pasties made by our very own Lily G! Fun with cameras and a T-Rex attack left us happy and tired for our second night of rest.

Our last day was our longest yet, as we navigated nearly 20 river miles while singing innumerable Disney songs. By the end of the day my arms were screaming at me as I spent most of my energy floundering about in a kayak which I finally figured out how to make “drive” straight after eight hours of trial and error. My failure as a kayaker was dwarfed by the canoe of our compatriots which was deemed to be “slightly faster than walking”. They attributed most of this to a defective canoe but most of us believe they just weren’t paddling hard enough…or at all. It was already mid evening when we pulled out of the river and nearly 9:00pm by the time that we ate a feast of a dinner at Fast Eddy’s, a local diner in Tok. We dined on the finest of french fries and burgers, a well deserved reward after all the paddling we did.

While this was my first Outdoor Adventures trip I can confidently say that it will not be my last. I had one of the best times of my life out on the river with my new friends, guides, and Ethan the Adventure Duck. It was easily one of the most memorable 4th of July’s I’ve had.


Trip Participant

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Introduction to Arctic Backpacking

Outdoor Adventures had a GREAT time backpacking in the Brooks Range June 18-24th. The Introduction to Arctic Backpacking course started on Friday, June 17th, with a trip-planning day. Frank and I helped our 5 participants go over the basics of route planning, gear prep, menu planning, food shopping, and all other matters of trip prep. We got everything ready to head out early the next day.

Saturday morning we all piled into the Suburban and started on the 8 hour drive up the Dalton Highway. We stopped to stretch our legs at the Yukon River and had a late lunch at the diner in Coldfoot. We arrived at the start of our hike just south of Atigun Pass, readied our gear, and threw our packs on to start our week-long trip on foot.

We hiked a couple of miles Saturday evening before finding a nice flat area to set-up our first camp. Those couple of miles were a good introduction to the type of terrain we would be hiking on for the next several days. Arctic Tundra is exciting and unpredictable, with lots of varying terrain to offer!! Dry, firm, boggy, rocky, never know what you'll find! Saturday evening we had a dinner of Caesar salad and boiled bratwursts on buns and crawled in our tents for the first night of camping under the Arctic sun.

Sunday morning (day 2) Amy made Ranchero Grits for breakfast, we broke camp, and we started hiking up our first pass, which was about 1000' of elevation gain to go up and over the Continental Divide.

While hiking down the other side of the pass, we spotted a muskox on the other side of the drainage!!! It was very exciting for all of us!! We stopped for a lunch of flatbread pizzas with cheese and pepperonis and hiked down the rest of the drainage to cross the headwaters of the Atigun River. We hiked a few miles down the river before stopping to make our second camp and cook a delicious dinner of pine nut couscous with sauteed zucchini, squash, and chicken. After dinner Amy, Jana, and Gregg did a bit of a side-hike up a nearby drainage to see some neat waterfalls and a glacier.

Monday morning (day 3) we awoke and ate some oatmeal that we flavored with brown sugar and various dried fruits. we hiked a few more miles down the Atigun River and had a lunch of triscuits with salami and cheese. we continued hiking until we were just below the slope that we would be hiking up the next day to gain our largest pass. Rather than leave a 3000' elevation gain for the next morning, we opted to hike about 1000' up until we found a nice bench to camp on, leaving only 2000' to climb the next morning to gain the 6200' pass we would be going over. We got camp set-up just before it started to rain on us a bit, and we rested a while until the rain started to let-up. We began to gather while Frank cooked an amazing dinner of golden curry with chicken, veggies, and buckwheat pasta.

Tuesday morning (day 4, and solstice) we ate a hardy breakfast of sin dog bread rolls (not sure of how those are actually spelled) and started on our climb to the top of the pass. After 3 or 4 hours of climbing, we reached our pass just in time to eat a lunch of flatbread sandwiches with cheese, bell peppers, and cucumber slices.

Hiking down the other side of the pass to the headwaters of the Itikmalak River provided a great view of a big glacier, as well as some exciting moments on tough, rocky terrain in the rain. Towards the bottom we encountered the hardest part of the descent and folks were starting to get a bit tired and low on energy, so slips and small falls started to occur among the group. We finally made it down and hiked a mile or so down the river to the first nice gravel bar we found to camp on. It was a long day and we were all excited for some food and rest!! Jana made some delicious macaroni and cheese with summer sausage bits mixed in, and I made "poop" for dessert, which is a great backpacking rendition of Jello No-Bake Oreo pie.

Wednesday morning (day 5) Gregg made some great toasted english muffin sandwiches with bacon and cheese and we started hiking down the Itikmalak river. This was the first day that we really started seeing large concentrations of mosquitos, and some folks started to pull out their bug nets for the hike. Frank ranked them on a 4 or 5 out of 10. The hike reminded us all of Jurassic Park habitat, so T-Rex and Velociraptor footprints abounded in our imaginations.

We had a delicious lunch of chicken wraps in the rain and hiked a total of 6 or 7 miles to a nice camp in sight of the next valley we would be turning into to hike over our next small pass. Our camp happened to have a great caribou shed sitting in it, so I used it to pitch my tarp!! Gregg braved the rain to cook breakfast burritos for everyone for dinner, and we all stood in the wind and drizzle to eat before we headed to bed.

Thursday morning (day 6) brought better weather and Kathi cooked hashbrowns, black beans, and scrambled eggs with salsa for breakfast. We hiked toward our next small pass and had beautiful weather during the morning! At lunch (pita with hummus, cheese, and sundried tomatoes) it started raining on us, and did for most of the rest of the day. Between the weather and how close our last camp would be to our final destination, we decided to beat out the last 8.5 miles on day 6, making our way through the rain and over our last small pass to Galbraith Lake Campground, where our Suburban and clean, dry clothes waited patiently for us. We made camp at the campground and enjoyed a rest and some time out of the rain before Amy cooked hot chicken and veggie stew for dinner. We were all pretty excited to have access to an outhouse with walls and a roof, as well!!

In all, we hiked about 30 miles through the Brooks Range and had an amazing time!!! The weather was mostly wonderful and the bugs were surprisingly lacking, for the most part. The worst they may have been was a 6 out of 10, and that didn't happen until our last day of hiking. Friday morning we hit the road early and had brunch in Coldfoot. We made it safely back to Fairbanks Friday evening in high spirits but ready for some well-deserved rest and relaxation!!

For a general idea of our route, see here:

Thanks for reading!!