Flying to Ruth Glacier

Lately I’ve been reviewing my research files seeking subject matter for new paintings and I ran across these photos of a fabulous trip in 1997 to Don Sheldon’s Mountain House on the Ruth Glacier, Denali National Park, Alaska.  I thought I’d share the experience on my blog.  During this time one of the places I wanted to research was Mt. McKinley, we found we could reserve a few days at the historic Mountain House, a place that was built on a rocky outcrop on the Ruth Glacier and used as a camp for climbers many years ago.  At the time it was being managed as a bed and breakfast, without any beds or breakfast.  We had the use of the cabin but had to bring all our own food, bedding, firewood, and extra supplies in case we were weathered in, and had to extend our stay.

We chartered Doug Geeting Aviation at the Talkeetna airport and arrived on a sunny spring day with a giant pile of provisions including nordic skis.  The 45 minute flight was spectacular through the mile wide Great Gorge lined by 5,000 foot high granite cliffs, the wheel/ski equipped plane enabled us to take off from Talkeetna’s  gravel air strip with wheels and land on the glacier with skis.  Mountain house is perched on a ridge above the glacier at 5,700 feet, with a stunning view of the Ruth and Don Sheldon amphitheaters.  Our gear formed an unwieldy pile on the snow, and the pilot instructed us to use two empty waiting sleds to haul everything up the slope to the house.  As we watched the bright red plane disappear we slowly realized that we were all alone in this vast icy wilderness, totally alone for miles and miles, our pile of supplies seemed to shrink in comparison.

More, tomorrow.

Gail Niebrugge, Alaska artist

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  1. john erkmann says:

    I never made the McKinley flight, but did enjoy flying with Doug on some sheep hunts. Fascinating flying and beautiful scenery…..and the best hamburger I ever had on returning to Talkeetna after days of eating freeze-dried paste.

  2. John, When I Googled Geeting Aviation to make a link, I couldn’t find any current website. Did he go out of business?

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