VIDEO #2: BD athlete Drew Stoecklein's summit-to-sea expedition in Alaska's Brooks Range
Black Diamond athlete Drew Stoecklein teamed up with Griffin Post, Andre Sommer, and Anthony Bonello for a month-long expedition to Alaska's Brooks Range. The goal: descend never-before-skied peaks and then raft hundreds of miles out to the Chuki Sea.
The video below is the second of a three-part series.
To watch the first video, click here.
The idea is simple: follow a snowflake from its starting point high atop a peak, down thousands of meters of rugged terrain, all of the way to the ocean. To do this right, however, it’s a bit more complicated than that: one needs mountaintops that have never seen man, slopes that have never seen skis, canyons that have no trails, and rivers that have neither bridges nor roads. This journey will be uninhibited by the impacts of man—essentially the same journey that these flakes have been taking for millions of years.
This May, myself and a team of adventurers set out to descend never-before-skied peaks in at the headwaters of the Noatak River in Alaska’s remote Brooks Range, and then paddled the 400 miles to the sea. The Noatak is one of the world’s wildest rivers. Set squarely in the migration path of the 500,000-strong Western Arctic Caribou Herd, the Noatak’s entire watershed is protected within the Noatak National Preserve and the Gates of the Arctic National Park. Together, the preserves are the size of New Jersey, populated only by wildlife like fox, wolf and grizzly, with only a few adventurers a year stepping foot in the area, let alone skiing and snowboarding. We’ll fly into the headwaters by bush-plane in late May while the snow still reaches to river level and pick off peaks as we descend—a 16-20 day journey in all. Paddling and skiing in 24-hour sunlight, we’ll eventually reach the Chuki Sea, well north of Nome, and from there fly back to Anchorage. Our hazards: ice shelves on the river, avalanches, and hungry grizzly just out of hibernation. Our rewards: huge, corned up mountain faces, thousands-strong caribou herds, and total solitude in some of the remotest country in the world. As far as undisturbed adventure goes, there may be no other trip like it in the world.
— Drew Stoecklein