Alaskan Triology

In Alaskan ski mountaineering, you take what the mountains give–and sometimes, the mountains take away. So relates Andrew MacLean in his recollection of a 14-year sga in pursuit of skiing the Alaska Range trifecta of Denali, Sultana, and Mt. Foraker, at a cost of $1 for every seven feet of vertical. Also featuring a sidebar by Angus M. Thuermer Jr. on his first ascent of Denali’s Reality Ridge.

“So guys, any words of advice?” asked Courtney Phillips as we clipped into our skis on the summit of Sultana in the Alaska Range. Courtney had been backcountry skiing for two years and was pumped for his biggest descent to date. Nobody replied. I dredged up two decades of condensed ski mountaineering wisdom and, after a few moments, uttered simply, “Don’t fall”…

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