Faces of Alaskan Adventure

In the Faces of Alaskan Adventure project, we’ll be introducing you to some of the most interesting people you’ll ever meet. These are brief glimpses into some the 49 Faces that will be featured in our multimedia digital book project. Click on an image or “Read More…” to reveal full profiles.

Kim McNett

Kim McNett is equally at home pedaling a fat bike across windswept arctic expanses as she is paddling a sea kayak along rugged and remote Alaskan coastlines. Kim’s explorations of wild coastlines provide her with skills, confidence, and judgement required in her role as an Alaskan sea kayak guide. During the summer of 2010, she paddled a month-long, 500 mile circumnavigation of Prince William Sound in a sleek tandem kayak she hand-crafted with her partner, Bjørn Olson. In the winter of 2014, Kim and Bjorn rode fat bikes 1100 roadless miles across Alaska. Their five-week journey followed the Iditarod trail from its start in Knik north to Koyuk, traversed the Seward Peninsula, and continued north of the Arctic Circle to the village Kotzebue. They often pedaled 11 or 12 hours per day, then divided the daily tasks of winter living in the far north. Kim is an artist, environmental educator, and avid “nature-geek”. She lives a simple, sustainable lifestyle in the community of Homer.

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Caroline and Patrick

Caroline Van Hemert and Patrick Farrell’s 4,000 mile human-powered backcountry journey in 2012 fulfilled a grand dream. They left Bellingham, Washington on March in hand-crafted boats. By September, they had rowed the Inside Passage, skied across the glaciated Coast Range, hiked and paddled the headwaters of the Yukon, crossed the rugged Tombstone Mountains, pack-rafted and slogged the muddy, mosquito-infested MacKenzie River delta. After trekking 200 miles along the arctic coast, they traversed the Brooks Range by foot and packraft, and canoed the length of the Noatak River to Kotzebue.

Ten years earlier, their first long wilderness journey together took them deep into the remote Yukon Territory. They built a bark canoe with hand tools and paddled it 300 miles through the Yukon and Northwest Territories. Their lives and dreams were inseparably woven together.

Meet Pat and Caroline…

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Katmai, Lituya, Erin, and Hig

Katmai McKittrick and Lituya Higman have explored nearly a thousand miles of rugged Alaskan coastlines. They traversed the world’s largest piedmont glacier, living on ice and glacially-transformed landscapes for two months. Before Katmai was age five he circumnavigated of Cook Inlet with its mudflats, bears, and powerful currents. Sister Lituya completed the journey before her third birthday.

Their parents, Erin McKittrick and Hig (Bretwood Higman), have never shied from new challenges. Complete a 100-day Alaskan wilderness trip with children? Why not?

Erin and Hig embarked on their first extended wilderness trip together in 2001, hiking and paddling 700 miles down the Alaska Peninsula. Six years later, they endured a year-long 4000 mile trek from Bellingham, Washington to Unimak Island in the Aleutians. Lessons learned and the relationship forged in their amazing journeys and prepared them well for grand adventures with two young children.

Meet Lityua, Katmai, Erin and Hig…

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Bjørn Olson

Bjørn Olson has made an art of wilderness bikepacking. He envisions coastal shorelines, frozen rivers, game trails, and tundra as opportunities to explore ambitious new routes to cycle in all seasons. Combining packrafts with fatbikes, Bjørn and partners have pedaled and paddled their ways through long wilderness adventures with their “go-light, go-far” ethic.

Bjørn is a renaissance Alaskan adventurer. An accomplished sea kayaker, he plays in rock gardens, surfs winter shore break, and has circumnavigated the rugged coast of southcentral Alaska to Kodiak. He embraces mountaineering, back-country snowboarding, and even rough terrain unicycling as ways to experience the Alaskan wilds.

Meet Bjørn…

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Tyler Johnson

Tyler Johnson is your all around adventurer. Born in Soldotna, Alaska on the Kenai Peninsula, he claims to be a “professional screwoff.” In his haste, he might forget to mention his involvement in a national survival reality TV show, winning three Alaska wilderness classic races, or his co-ownership of two Anchorage businesses. He’s always looking for the next adventure as a climber, big mountain skier, adventure racer, carpenter, commercial fisherman, log cabin builder, mechanic, apprentice stone mason, hot tub builder and father.

Determined and ambitious in the outdoors, Tyler also highly respects Alaskan wilderness. “Alaska is one of the most dangerous places to explore…no doubt one of the most dangerous places in North America. Alaska will kill you without prejudice.”

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Jason Stuckey

Jason Stuckey has quickly become a climber and mountaineer to watch. He’s only been climbing for 5 years, but has already made first ascents and isn’t afraid of a challenge. In 2013 he made the first ascent of The Apocalypse in the Revelation Mountains, with fellow featured face, Clint Helander. He documents his trips with amazing photographs, and passes on his knowledge as a volunteer for the UAF Outdoor Adventures program.

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Heidi Rader

Heidi Rader loves to be outdoors in all seasons. Alaskan summers find her rock climbing, cycling, paddling and working in her Little Alaskan Garden. She loves hunting and picking berries in fall, backcountry skiing in winter, and mountaineering in spring.

Heidi has summited Denali and attempted Mt. Logan, the tallest peak in Canada. She is well acquainted with alpine routes and summits in the Deltas of the eastern Alaska Range. Heidi’s explorations have taken her to remote corners of the world, but she remains in love with the Alaskan wilderness experience.

“I can ski, run, and bike out my door and not see another soul for hours… You can go for months without hitting roads and by the time you see people, you’re glad to. …for me, the wilderness aspect is part of why I enjoy climbing.”

Meet Heidi…

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Luc Mehl

Luc smiles while mountain biking single track, packrafting steep creeks, skiing backcountry powder, and even bushwhacking through thick alders. His unassuming and abiding smile reflects his love of unspoiled wilderness, but belies his extraordinary accomplishments. Luc has garnered deep respect among those who push limits in fast, ultra-light travel through challenging terrain.

If you meet this humble, soft-spoken adventurer on an outing in the Chugach mountains, Luc won’t be the one to tell you that he has won the winter Alaska Mountain Wilderness Ski Classic five times and the Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic twice. A friend might whisper it in your ear, or you may discover through his website, Things to Luc At.

Luc has a gift for drawing creative lines across topographic maps and crafting them into awe-inspiring adventures. Routes he conceived and realized include traverses of the three tallest summits in North America: Denali (2011 – 200 miles), Mount Logan (2012 – 370 miles), and Orizaba (2013 – 240 miles). Luc’s odysseys combine mountain bikes, skis, climbing gear, packrafts and ultralight camping gear with extreme competence and confidence.

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Tim Johnson

Tim Johnson’s dream of living in the wildest place on Earth led him from Georgia to Anchorage in 2002. He brought along a taste for whitewater kayaking acquired on southern streams. He soon discovered Alaska’s  abundant variety of wild rivers.  As he studied blue lines and contours on topo maps, Tim realized how little information was available about paddling many glacial rivers and snow-fed creeks. He explored steep creeks and deep canyons rarely run in the 80’s and 90’s. Before long, Tim began to add notable first descents to the list of Alaskan river runs. In 2007, he wrote and published Alaska Whitewater: A Guide to Rivers & Creeks in the Last Frontier. .

When winter rolls around, Tim feeds his adrenaline appetite with a diet of skiing, snow machining and speed flying.

When he’s off the rivers and slopes, Tim channels energy into writing songs and playing banjo. Tim lives in a nineteen foot 1989 Toyota Odyssey 4×4 motorhome equipped with solar panels, wood stove and storage racks for skis, bikes, and kayaks. He tries to live off-grid, moving around to sleep in new places every night.

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Krista Heeringa

Krista Heeringa’s face lights up and eyes sparkle when she talks about her adventures in wild Alaska. She loves any activity that gets her outdoors in Alaska. Born and raised in Fairbanks, Krista has lived in a cabin without running water for 24 of her 27 years. Growing up in an active Alaskan family, Krista began exploring when she was “knee high to a grasshopper”. She was skiing from the time she could walk. At five, she first shouldered a backpack and hit the trail. Today, her cherished “toys” for cross-country skiing, back country skiing, backpacking, packrafting, rock climbing and ice climbing stand ready for endless adventures. Wilderness trips that combine multiple outdoor activities hold special appeal to Krista.
Her awe-inspiring photography has led her to look more closely at wild landscapes that she once sped through as an endurance athlete.

Meet Krista…

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Paul Schauer

In the summer, Paul is probably on an Alaskan river. Paul loves the challenge and beauty of experiencing Alaskan rivers accessible only by whitewater kayakers or packrafters with class V skills.  From powerful, huge glacier-fed  torrents, to steep, technical creeks in narrow, boulder-choked canyons, Paul paddles in the Chugach, Talkeetnas, Alaska Range, Wrangells, and Brooks Range.  Primarily a “hard shell” kayaker, Paul also earns respect among the community of Alaskan adventurers who push the limits of whitewater packrafting.
In winter, Paul loves skinning up peaks in the Chugach and Talkeetna mountains, and carving turns on steep backcountry faces and powder-filled couloirs. Paul’s shares his wild places and magic moments through photography and video.

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Paige and Cody

Paige Drobny and Cody Strathe share a love of Alaska, dog mushing, and each other. Together they own Squid Acres Kennel, where they devote themselves to the other loves of their lives: Alaskan sled dogs! Together with their teams of Alaskan huskies, this Alaskan couple has enjoyed amazing adventures exploring remote regions of wild Alaska by dog sled. Their expeditions into the Brooks Range and arctic Alaska reveal their desire to experience amazing wilderness with each other and their dogs. Each partner has enjoyed tremendous success and earned widespread respect in the long distance dog mushing community.

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