American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, A Field Institute in the Mountain and Expeditionary Sciences, Juneau Icefield

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1966

A Field Institute in the Mountain and Expeditionary Sciences, ]uneau Icefield. A permanent field facility to provide an academic and practical training program for students interested in polar, mountain and glacial sciences has been established in Alaska. This activity was started in the summer of I960 when informal instruction became an integral part of the annual Juneau Icefield Research Program. This led to establishment of a Summer Institute of Glaciological Sciences, the practical training and research aspects of which have been under the aegis of the Foundation for Glacier Research and the academic offerings via the Glaciological Institute and Department of Geology at Michigan State University. Formal field courses in the Institute have been offered each summer since 1961. Since 1962, the National Science Foundation has supported the Institute making it possible annually for up to 17 graduate students to participate in these field courses designed for degree requirements. Up to ten additional non-N.S.F. participants, both graduate and undergraduate, have also been accepted each summer. The field season normally covers a period of seven weeks during July and August. Mountaineering, safety and expeditionary ski instruction is handled as a basic essential in the curriculum. The National Science Foundation funding has also made it possible to invite outstanding senior scientists to the Juneau Icefield to give instruction and field training. During the 1965 season, 25 staff members from the United States and abroad provided guidance for the Institute’s 24 students during some portion of the program. Field trips were made along the coast to adjacent mountain and glacier regions, including the inner ranges of the St. Elias Mountains, where an adjunct field station has been established near Mount Kennedy. Field facilities on the Juneau Icefield which are available for this unique program include nine over-snow vehicles; dormitory space for 35 people at each of two high-level camps; extensive camp, expeditionary, mountaineering and ski training equipment at 18 other camps; library holdings of 1000 volumes at each of the two main field stations; scientific equipment pertaining to geophysical, photogrammetric, surveying, meteorological, glaciological and geological studies; and 22 permanent aluminum-sheathed structures at field camps positioned at elevations between 2500 and 8000 feet.

The concept of combining expeditionary, mountaineering and scientific instruction with actual research on a long-term field program has brought about a unique and effective training experience. Among the 100 students who have received training through the program since 1960, 49 have been attracted from other areas of concentration or have become professionally oriented toward the arctic and glaciological sciences; 52 have continued graduate research in related fields; and 27 are actively engaged in teaching or in some other professional aspect of these fields. Representatives from over 90 universities and other educational and research agencies in the U.S. and abroad have participated in this program to date. Thus, the Institute is fulfilling a useful role in the development of a cadre of scientific talent in the mountain and glacier disciplines which have received far too little attention in the past. American Alpine Club members who have been assisting on the field staff of this program are: Maynard M. Miller, Kenneth A. Henderson, William R. Hainsworth, Barry W. Prather, Theodore R. Haley, M.D.; Wayne M. Smith, M.D.; Herbert Kothe and C. P. Egan. Other AAC members who have participated in the field program are Douglas Bingham, Peter Farquhar, Fred Dunham, David M. Potter, IV, and James H. Anderson. The summer of 1966 represents the seventh annual session of this Institute and the 21st successive year of the affiliated expeditions of the Juneau Icefield Research Program.

Maynard M. Miller

This AAJ article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.