A podcast produced by Jason Albert

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In episode 3 of West of Center, we head north to the Alaska Range in winter. It’s here where you’ll learn about frigid temps, talking with ravens, and Jonathan Waterman’s first winter time ascent of Denali’s Cassin Ridge. Not to mention you’ll meet a mountaineer nicknamed the Japanese Caribou.

But first, here’s some background info: I initially read Waterman’s account of his Cassin climb in a classic essay titled The Winter of Our Discontent. The original story was collected twenty years ago in his book, In The Shadow of Denali. And Waterman recently updated his Cassin essay in a 2013 collection titled Northern Exposures.

Waterman has a storied legacy in the Alaska Range, where he spent many years as a climbing ranger. More recently, he has dedicated his considerable intellect and energies to preserving wild places and resources like the Colorado River.

Grab your headphones and zip up the down jacket.

Photos Courtesy of the Joe Puryear collection.

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The Cassin Ridge rises up the center from the left.

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Climbing along the knife-edge ridge.

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Angle of repose

In this episode we’ll learn about predicting storm snow avalanches, how a series of missteps leads to a long slide, and the poetics of Crested Butte’s Tim Clark. All of it related to the angle of repose, and how we can respect it. It’s about ensuring we can travel again and again through a thin air dreamland.

Find info about Ned Bair’s good work here. He’s a snow scientist we hear from in episode 2.

Here’s a cool video from Ned; it shows the types of images the camera system captures during a snow storm cycle.

Types of snow flakes

Types of snow flakes

And lastly, more info from the snow flake authorities at Cal Tech.


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Liitle one
Little kid, big hand, little crab, big ocean. Yup, the big, the small, and the in between. Where does Yosemite’s iconic El Capitan stand? Have a listen..