Ski to the Edge sets off: a 600 Mile Yukon Wilderness Expedition

Yukon Government Archives photo shows Alex Van Bibber, Curly Desrosiers and Harry Cooper in the Firth River area in 1948. (Alex Van Bibber collection, 92/28 #15, Yukon Archives)

The late Alex Van Bibber was a child of the Gold Rush era in the Yukon Territories, born in 1916. In 1943, he led the Canoil expedition to find a new oil pipeline route as a result of concerns over the Japanese landing on the nearby Aleutian Islands. We were hugely privileged to hear Alex’s stories first hand as he gave us his last interview in 2014, at the age of 98. He shared tales of rafting to school from their home in Fort Selkirk to Dawson City with him, as the oldest child aged 13, in charge. He later starred in films about the Yukon, ‘Challenge to be free’ and ‘The Last Trapper’, he took the Chicago mob hunting and even took the Kennedy family up Mount Kennedy. His life was full of rich adventures as a guide, instructor and rescuer – the modern day title of ‘legend’ was well deserved.

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Snowshoes, hot tents and contentment in Sweden

Like quite a lot of people, I suspect, I once considered the onset of winter, with the mountains locked in snow, as the end of play. Not being a particularly good skier, deep snow meant a full stop to three seasons of boreal travel. My discovery of snowshoes has radically changed things. Continue reading

The right tools

Arriving at any new venue, it is easy to expect that you will be able to capture the perfect “Google” photo – that classic ‘wow’ image that appears when you tap a location into a search engine. It is a natural reaction and one we are all prone to.  But the weather gods are fickle, often conspiring to scupper our preconceptions when we actually get out of the car. Continue reading

If it’s good enough for an otter…

I have been living and working in the Lake District for over 17 years. I teach wilderness bushcraft and expedition skills, instructing on everything from wild foods and tracking to axemanship and woodcraft, spending well over one hundred nights a year living outdoors under canvas in the UK, and travelling overseas to lead expeditions in the colder months, from dry desert to coastal tropical, and from steaming jungles to frozen sub-Arctic environments. Continue reading

Jumping the midnight sun

So here I am, an Adventure Leader for British Exploring, fresh back from the land of fire and ice. It was three awesome weeks of inspirational landscapes and people. I’ve always loved geography, and one of the reasons I entered the world of outdoor education was to immerse myself in the geography of the world.

Iceland is about as amazing as it gets when you are looking for a few geography topics to bring into the day. We spent one evening jumping the sun at about 11pm! It was a memorable way to grasp the concept of the midnight sun! Continue reading

Madagascar’s ‘Silk’ Route

I’ve been visiting Madagascar for over 20 years: in fact I’ve returned each year since 1991. Back then it captivated me like no place had done before, or since, and my enthusiasm has yet to diminish. Since my first visit in 1998, one place on the island has been my favourite – Marojejy National Park in the far north east. It is one of Madagascar’s wildest places.

I initially visited the park with just one aim – to get photos of the incredibly rare silky sifaka (Propithecus candidus). Continue reading

Expedition kit fit for purpose

I believe that there are 4 pieces of kit which are absolute essentials and form the backbone of my kit on any expedition, whether instructing DofE students or out in Nepal climbing Everest. These are boots, sleeping bag, rucksack and waterproofs. Having comfy feet, being toasty in the coldest conditions, feeling my backpack is robust enough for the jobs ahead, staying dry and warm on the inside in the harshest of weather – and knowing that this kit will not be a liability – is key to me being at my best in any situation. Continue reading

Searching for Snow Leopards

The snow leopard is the epitome of remote, rugged wilderness and has for so long been regarded as a mythical ghost of the mountains: a creature that lives unseen amongst the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas and Central Asia. Continue reading