Our main form of transportation is by ski. All the students
selected for the program, and most of the staff members
and researchers make the full traverse of the Icefield from
Juneau to Atlin Lake under their own power. A boat then
takes us the remaining 40 miles from the lakeshore to Atlin.
When doing the survey work, we use tracked oversnow
vehicles as much as possible. Sometimes crevasse conditions
are such that we must leave the vehicle behind and go
on skis, such as in this photo.
Here's a nice photo of some of the crevasse zones we
must negotiate. This is on the route between Camp 17
and Camp 10.
The skiing we do on the Icefield is usually fairly boring.
Basically, it involves getting from one place to another
while carrying a full backpack. There's not much you
can do with 50 or so pounds on your back, so when
we get to a camp and shed the pack, it's time to
have some fun...
...which sometimes has dire consequences
(no permanent damage was done).
When not skiing from camp to camp, we use oversnow
vehicles such as this one. These vehicles allow us to
accomplish much more survey work than we could if
we had to do all the work on skis. All the vehicles have
names -- this one is the Moth. It once fell 60 feet into
a crevasse, where several JIRPers spent a couple of weeks
taking it apart and hauling it to the surface. It was then
reassembled and has been roaming the Icefield ever since.
The oversnow vehicles are powered by small gasoline
engines. This photo shows how the gasoline is
delivered to the Icefield. Here a helicopter is
depositing four 55 gallon barrels of fuel at Camp 10.
The fuel is purchased in Juneau, delivered to the
heliport, and then flown to the Icefield.
And here's the gas station. Vehicles are fueled with
a simple hand pump, straight from the barrel. Although
the sign says "Gas -- $4.99 per gallon" -- the actual
total cost of a gallon of gas is much higher when
taking into account the cost of transporting it to the
Icefield and the cost of flying the empty barrels back
out to Juneau for reuse.
Here's one of our gas station attendants/surveyors
pumping gas in preparation for heading out for a
long day of survey work. This vehicle is named
Occasionally, a research project may take us to
some of the more remote portions of the Icefield.
In these cases, it's necessary to get everyone involved
there quickly. Here, one of the vehicles is traveling
up the Taku Glacier with several skiers on a tow rope.
It's not as exciting as it sounds -- because of suncups
on the surface of the glacier, the vehicle can go only
about 4-5 miles per hour.
This is the unpleasant result of trying to go too fast.
Suncups on the Icefield range from just a few centimeters
to nearly a meter from the trough to the crest. This puts
extreme stress on the springs, which sometimes snap.
When traveling between camps, we always stay on
established, safe trails. Here, multiple trails meet at
the Icefield version of a highway interchange. Individual
research teams usually are composed of only a few people,
so when meeting others on the trail it's a perfect time for
a break and to see what the others are up to.
All vehicles remain on the Icefield throughout the
winter. If left outside, they would quickly become
buried and lost. For this reason, we have garages at
the main camps for vehicle storage, such as the one
shown here. During the summer, these garages serve
as bunkhouses for the members of the program.
During the course of the summer research season we
make a complete north/south traverse of the Icefield
from Juneau, Alaska to Atlin, British Columbia. This
requires logistical support from both sides of the
Juneau Icefield. Here, our Atlin pilot delivers some
supplies to one of the camps on the Canadian side.
The rudder on the load helps to stabilize it and prevent
it from spinning.
Occasionally, it is necessary to fly over the Juneau
in a small plane. This view is looking southeast
to Devil's Paw,
the highest mountain on the Icefield at 2,616 meters (8,584 feet).