Monday, August 29, 2011

Photo Workshop has completed

The AMS Photography Workshop with Tom Bol has come to a close and it was a big success with a wide variety of lighting, subject matter and of course, fabulous students!

Check out these great images from the past few days of the workshop.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Some Unpacking the rain

It is pouring down rain here but it is green instead of white and all are smiles as they eat watermelon. They're busy unpacking and making plans for dinner, etc.

They're Back!

6:00 PM Alaska Time
Mike Janes and team just landed at the airport from the 12 Day Mountaineering Course on the Eldridge. They are on their way over here we are providing 2 of the three items they requested upon their return...

~blogger laura

12 Day Mountaineering Course Waiting on the Weather

I just got off the phone with Mike Janes, lead guide of the course. It is snowing lightly on the Eldridge Glacier and not flyable at this time. There are some low clouds here in Talkeetna; however things can change quickly and there is plenty of daylight to fly. Two days ago, the students moved up glacier on their own, to the landing strip. The guides followed a few hours later. All went well and they have been learning, learning and climbing a lot.
The group has requested beer, pizza and that order and we will do our best to accommodate them. We hope to see their smiling faces here today and will keep you posted.

~blogger laura

These photos are from the July 12-Day course held on the Eldridge Glacier.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Photography Course Day 2

The Photography course had a full day of activities. We started with a class on composition, then hiked around a lake shooting macro's, and we finished off the day photographing our in-house models and their pets. The evening session was on work flow. 

Today we head off to the Peter's Hill's for a couple nights.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Todays Workshop Photos

The AMS Photo Workshop taught by Tom Bol had a fantastic day, see the below selected student shots of the day. 


Monday, August 22, 2011

Photography Course getting busy

The Tom Bol photography course hit the ground running. They are learning a lot and experiencing the finest Talkeetna has to offer.
Tom Bol discussing composition.

Using a wireless remote flash to add to a close up detail shot.

Perry obeying all the rules at the Fairview Inn

Stopping to shoot the original AMS office and outhouse.

The dream Alaska plane, Super Cub on tundra tires.

12 Day MTC- Janes

Mike called in and his group is doing great. They moved down glacier to position themselves for more climbs. They were pumped to be in such a pristine wilderness with no other groups within 50 miles. They are covering curriculum while putting it into practice. Just what they intended.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Photography Workshop instructor Tom Bol

Tom's showing up soon to teach the Photography course. He recently was featured in Photo District News. Tom's so nice he makes his mother proud to be from Kansas.

12 Day Mountaineering/Janes

Michael Janes called in yesterday from the Eldridge. With the weather the past few days being so good they've been climbing. Looks like a system has moved in now and their plan is to do a more exhaustive crevasse rescue class all day today. They'll then move down glacier to explore the climbing potential.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Alaska Air National Guard article on Wounded Warriors

Read the whole story here: 177th Wing
7/4/2011 - TALKEETNA, Alaska -- Alaska Air National Guard pararescuemen -- or PJs, as they are more commonly called -- aren't just helping wounded veterans down Mount McKinley. This year, they're helping them up, as part of a three-week, rehabilitation-oriented expedition that started June 24.

Three of the 212th Rescue Squadron's PJs are supporting the Combat Wounded Veteran Mountaineering Challenge, a grass-roots program out of Tampa, Fla., that assists veterans in recovery by helping them push themselves to succeed.

"The climb is secondary," said Staff Sgt. Bill Cenna, one of the PJs. "It's really about getting these guys out and allowing them to challenge themselves."

The PJs got on board with the project through their connections with the Alaska Mountaineering School in Talkeetna. The school is providing the guides for the trip.

Several of the guides expressed confidence and enthusiasm for having the PJs as part of the guide staff, noting their medical skills, experience and team-player attitudes.

"If I wash a dish, I can throw it over my shoulder and know someone's going to catch it," said Matt Montavon, one of the civilian guides, who has been contributing to this mission since the veterans started training in the spring of 2010.

As the PJs provide medical and logistical support for the team, they will also be recording valuable medical research for the effects of high altitude and exertion on one veteran, a double-lung transplant recipient, according to David Oleson, the founding member of the Mountaineering Challenge.

The program is already making a positive impact in wounded warriors' lives, according to silver-star recipient Sgt. (ret.) Victor Thibeault.

"I got stripped of my career," Thibeault said. "This makes me feel like I am still a part of that team because I'm dealing with guys who are dealing with the same thing. I still have a home away from home."

After the Denali climb, the people involved in the nonprofit organization, including the veterans, have bigger plans.

Navy Chief Petty Officer Jon Cummings wants to bring their stories back to patients at Walter Reed Medical Center, a major military hospital treating combat-wounded veterans. He meets service members there whose lives have been turned upside-down, and who do not know how they are going to put it back together, he said.

The program is summed up in its motto: Vulneror non Vincor, which means 'I am wounded, not conquered.'

You can follow the team through the Alaska Mountaineering School's blog at

Sunday, August 14, 2011

12 Day Mountaineering, Janes

It is a beautiful day here in Talkeetna,  our August 12 day Mountaineering Course spent most of the their day checking gear and packing up in order to fly into the Alaska Range.

The weather conditions are great today! They have flown into the mountains and are currently building their camp area, setting up tents and digging snow kitchens on the Eldridge Glacier in the Alaska Range!

Here they are at the AMS HQ prior to departure: Instructors Mike Janes,  Matt Montavan and Dusty Eroh with Chris, Gerald, Eric, Heidi, Robert, Stephen, Matt, Greg and Raul, they ready to head to the Eldridge for a great time and lots of learning.

We will keep you posted when they contact us from the mountains, we do not expect too many updates from them as they will be focused on climbing!

All Best,
Caitlin and Bobbi

Thursday, August 11, 2011


The people who work here, their lives cross paths with members of the military and coast guard. AMS is hired to teach climbing courses or lead Denali expeditions to these people. Sometimes it's regular enlisted, most of the time they are a specialty, occasionally they are groups of wounded from combat.

Denali and her surrounding mountains are "bad ass" and provide a uniquely real, un-contrived environment to learn these skills and apply them. Its always so rewarding to the guides working these things and for us in town too. Something about it is hard to pin down. Maybe because I know I wouldn't last a minute in a firefight and feel like these guys have, or are willing to take a bullet for me.

AMS is made up of citizens of the US and we all enjoy the rights of living in this amazing country. There are 40 guides who work here and most of them travel to the Tetons, Rainier, Yosemite, Canyonlands, Joshua Tree, and a host of other awe-inspiring wilderness areas in the US after a month or two in Alaska. What a life! And not the same anywhere else on earth.

I am glad we protect our way of life. I wish it didn't result in tragic events like the Chinook going down last week in eastern Afghanistan.
I immediately wanted to know if it was "one of ours," but even if not, the military is such a band of brothers, especially the Special Forces, I knew all our armed forces graduates were hurting.

My condolences,
Colby Coombs
Can you spot JC?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Upcoming courses

The sun is shining and there is new snow in the Alaska Range - beautiful!

We have the following courses upcoming, join us!

Testing Gear placement during the Glacier Travel and Crevasse Rescue Workshop

Aug 14-25, 12 Day Mountaineering Course (full)

August 20 - 21, Glacier Travel & Crevasse Rescue Workshop (spaces available)

August 22-27, Denali Photography Workshop (spaces available)

September 1-12, 12 day Mountaineering Course (spaces available)

September 4-9, 6 day Mountaineering Course (spaces available)

Looking ahead...

2011 AMS Aconcagua Expedition at high camp, 19,400'

December 1-19, Aconcagua Expedition (spaces available)

January 9-27, 2012, Aconcagua Expedition (spaces available)

February 9-27, 2012,  Aconcagua Expedition (spaces available)

And thinking ahead to next year... here's a link to our just released 2012 schedule - woo hoo!

AMS on the top of North America, Denali,  20,320'

Have a super day,

The sun is shining...time to work in the garden!

Finally after two weeks of rain, the sun is back. It is a beautiful day with a crisp coolness to the air. Autumn is scratching at the door.

We have five more courses this season–three mountaineering courses, a Glacier Travel and Crevasse Rescue workshop and our Denali Photography Workshop. There is room on all but the upcoming 12 day mountaineering course.

Travis and Erin improving the AMS garden.
In the meantime, our intern Erin and AMS scholarship student, Travis are working to put in a new garden. It is surrounded with strawberries and raspberry bushes. I picked some of both for my breakfast this morning.

~Blogger Laura

Monday, August 8, 2011

7/20 Eldridge MTC12 Returns!

This is intern Allegra checking in from the 7/20 12-Day Mountaineering Course on the Eldridge Glacier with guides Forest Wagner and Noah Ronczkowski. We're all glad to be back! We arrived at 7 on Sunday evening, happy to see some tasty hot food and rain-soaked greenery. Most teammates are on their way back to family and work.


Our camp on a lovely evening, early in the course

On our way up to Peak 8,100

Unloading gear: Forest, Peter, and Carter

John was really looking forward to a shower.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Good News


We just heard from the Air Service that landing conditions on the Eldridge Glacier are good! They sent in another larger plane to pick them up and transport them to Talkeetna. Their estimated time of arrival is 7:00 PM Alaska Time.

Hot pizza and fresh fruit will be waiting for them !!!

- Caitlin

Weather Break, hoping for the best...

It is sunny in Talkeetna and a plane has launched to check on the snow conditions on the glacier and give the team extra food, fuel and treats.   From other Alaska Range pilot reports the team has been working very hard stomping out an enormous runway, so we are hopeful that they will get out this evening.

It is up to the the pilot that is flying in right now as to if they will be able to get out today. The determining factor is the snow. If it has snowed too much and not solidified enough, the airplanes will get stuck in the snow and not be able to lift off with passengers.  If this is the case, normally it takes 24 hours for the snow to firm up and make conditions suitable.

We are rooting for them here and hope all that snow is perfect!
Here's the scouting plane on it's way.

We are doing our best, and they continue to be very well.

- Caitlin

Eldridge Update

It's raining in Talkeetna this morning. The weather is supposed to give us a break later today. The group morale is good which is a tribute to them all. We spent yesterday discussing other options with the Denali NPS's south side district ranger and have their helicopter support available to initiate a food drop. The plan last night was to helicopter in low under the cloud ceiling and drop the food off as close as we could letting Forrest know the GPS coordinates. Rain shut us down before we could launch. Forrest knows to call at any time day or night to let us know when its flyable. They have a solar panel to keep the satellite phone charged and we just added 200 more minutes. The air taxi and the NPS helicopter are ready to launch. It's not an emergency because the group is healthy and they have food and fuel which they are rationing, but we are responding in full force regardless. We have a mountain of fresh red salmon recently caught in the Kenai ready to put on the grill as soon as they are airborne. Patience being tested is an understatement and in the end they will be stronger and wiser from the experience, but it's not the end yet.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Mountaineering Courses Update - Hoeschen & Wagner

The 6 Day Mountaineering Course with instructors Josh Hosechen and Matt Montsvon has returned to Talkeetna from the Matanuska Glacier. They were unable to fly into the Alaska Range at the start of their course so they chose to drive to the Matanuska Glacier in the Chugach Mountains for glacier camping, course work, crampon travel and technical skills. They returned this afternoon ready to hit the showers! They all had a great time and learned alot with Josh and Matt, 2 super leaders and teachers. We look forward to having all the students back again for much more - and with clearer skies next time.

The 12 Day Moutnaineering Course remains on the Eldridge Glacier and is on their 6th day of delay. We are in touch with the lead instuctor Forest Wagner and he reports that they are doing just fine.  They still have plenty of food and fuel.  Our air service, Talkeetna Air Taxi tried hard to get the team today, but the weather continues to hold the upper hand with stubborn clouds and fog on the Eldgride Glacier. This course is getting the real deal experience with the realities of airplane access climbing in the Alaska Range. I beleive this course has now broken my personal record of weather delay, mine is 5 days, and the airplanes and pilots were stuck with us for a few of those days too!  When I was delayed, we actually had a good time - all we could do was wait and make the best of it.  If they are into pop culture, surely they will be signing the tune to Gilligan's Island by now.

We are doing all we can to facilitate their return to Talkeetna and smooth return home, the weather map gives me hope for clearing skies tomorrow.

- Caitlin

The course that keeps on giving.

I haven't talked to Forrest yet today probably because it is still foggy. Many planes were flying yesterday and they could have landed in Basecamp, miles further into the Alaska range, but not in the Eldridge where the clouds continue to hang on. When we talk today we'll discuss plan B which is an air drop of supplies 6 miles down glacier. They have supplies good through Tuesday, but it's a back up plan in the event weather persists. CBC