A climber looks into a crevasse, or deep crack, on Denver Glacier.

Exploring the Ice

In Skagway, I worked as an outdoor guide. I showed people the area’s glaciers. If people got lost, it was my job to help find them.

One day, I was on the Denver Glacier with the search and rescue team. We were practicing what to do if a person fell into a crevasse. A crevasse is a crack in a glacier.

After working all day, we took a break. We went over to some large seracs on a glacier. These ridges of ice stick up like shark fins. We decided to climb them for fun.

At the base of one serac was a crevasse. It was full of clear blue water. I stood right up to the edge. Some rope connected me to the person climbing above me. Suddenly, that person slipped. I was yanked off my feet by the rope. I fell into the icy gap. My gear and I sank to the bottom.

Chunks of ice known as seracs break off from glaciers. It’s hard to resist climbing them!

Ice Rescue!

Quickly, the search and rescue team fished me out. They helped remove my wet gear. I was soon warming up in a sleeping bag. I was safe.

I take a photo of rock that has been scraped smooth by a glacier.

Back at Skagway, everyone wanted to hear my glacier story. So, I told them. And then they told me their glacier stories.

They told me stories of glaciers growing and calving. They had stories of glaciers with trees growing on them. They had stories of local people interacting with glaciers in all sorts of ways. I discovered that ice meant something to people. The glaciers gave people a sense of identity.

These stories changed my life. I realized that I had found a career. So, I set out to study glaciers.