(By Correne Coetzer) Jerry Kobalenko, Glen Crawford and Jerry Auld completed their Mount Logan circumski, Kobalenko told ExplorersWeb. They did the 240km in 10 days and pulled 120 pound sleds, "a decent time and reflects a strong team".
The weather was sunny except for one half day. The problem was not staying warm, but staying cool says Jerry, and the reflection off the snow was withering. Snow conditions were ideal. "It is not a hard route, though I was grateful to my mountaineer partners for steering us safely through several crevasse fields."
"As an Arctic sledder who has done almost all his trips with loose sled traces (rope or webbing), I was interested to see how rigid traces (aluminum or fiberglass poles) were more efficient in this mountainous environment. They let you ski side hills and downhills without a lot of fussing with sled brakes and overturned sleds," explains Jerry.
Kobalenko says one of Kluane's wardens told him that this route is done about once every two years, but legendary bush pilot, Andy Williams, says that this reflects attempts rather than successes, and that only about half a dozen parties have succeeded. To put our journey in perspective, Jerry explains, the first party to circumski Mount Logan was also from Canmore, Alberta. They went earlier in the season, skied in, did the circumnav, and skied out and also climbed Logan in the process.
Jerry Kobalenko has been venturing into the Arctic since 1984 when he manhauled 600 kilometers alone across Labrador in midwinter. After Labrador awakened his northern passions, the writer and photographer traveled Ellesmere and Axel Heiberg Islands for the next 15 years, putting in 1000s of kilometers by foot, manhauling and kayaking. He has written 2 books on Ellesmere Island and done 30 expeditions there.
In the last few years, Jerry has returned to his first love, Labrador. He has kayaked the entire coast of Labrador, and 20 years after his first expedition, he redid his original route to see how age balances experience. He finished a week faster this time. In 2012 Jerry took 24-year-old Inuit, Noah Nochasak, on a 550km sledge-haul expedition in Labrador and Quebec.
Jerry specializes in journeys between 500 and 800 km. He describes himself as "a mediocre downhiller and more or less a non-climber", and has done 17 sledding expeditions longer than this one, while they've never sledded and this is their longest journey -- so ours will be a mix of skills.
Jerry's team mates for the Mount Logan circumski are local ski mountaineers Glen Crawford and Jerry Auld. Glen's a full-time videographer; among many other projects, he filmed the Discovery Channel/Canadian Geographic Television documentary based on Jerry's book, The Horizontal Everest. Jerry Auld, whose idea this trip was, is a programmer and writer of mountain fiction. Both are serious ski mountaineers, but have never sledge-hauled before, so this expedition will be "a mix of skills" said Jerry.
Mount Logan is believed to have the largest base circumference of any non-volcanic mountain on Earth and is the highest mountain in Canada (5,959m / 19,551 ft).
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