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Mountaineering Club of Alaska

Mountaineering Club of Alaska. The Mountaineering Club of Alaska had approximately 600 members in 2001. The club held monthly meetings that featured slide shows on Mt. Everest, exploring the Talkeetna Mountains, Wood Tikchik State Park, Mt. Blackburn and Mt. Sanford, Antarctica, climbs in the Tordrillo Mountains, mountain photography, Mt. Foraker, and the first winter ascent of Denali, by Vern Tejas. The club also offered 37 hiking and climbing trips and over 10 different training courses to its members during the past year. The vast majority of club-sponsored trips were in the Chugach, Talkeetna, and Kenai Mountains of south-central Alaska. Through the combined efforts of Steve Parry, Gary Runa, and other volunteer instructors, the club’s Training Committee offered instruction in ice climbing, winter camping and survival, glacier travel and crevasse rescue, basic mountaineering, knot-tying, avalanche hazard recognition, telemark skiing, and trip-leader training.

At the request of the Hut Committee, the board acted to address growing concerns over the disposal of human waste at several of the MCA’s backcountry huts. The board voted to pursue a grant and to use several member-donations to purchase EPA-approved “Restop” Human Solid Waste disposal systems manufactured by Innotek, Inc., for our huts in the Chugach Mountains. The Restop system consists of a “bag and bucket” setup that uses special polymers and enzymes to encapsulate and then break down waste within the bag. The systems will be installed at four club huts in the spring and summer of 2002.

The MCA established two new awards in 2001: a President’s Award to recognize member contributions to club projects and events in the past calendar year, and a prestigious award named in honor of Vin and Grace Hoeman to recognize persons who have made significant contributions to the exploration, documentation, and promotion of hiking and climbing opportunities in Alaska’s mountain ranges.

In terms of community development, the club continued discussions with Chugach State Park regarding the issue of ownership and liability regarding the three mountain huts located along the Eklutna Traverse in the park. Work was completed on the new Serenity Falls Cabin in Chugach State Park- a multi-use public cabin project built by MCA members and volunteers from other local user groups with grant funds solicited by the MCA. Members also continued trail clearing activities on the Gold Mint Trail in partnership with Alaska State Parks, as well as in Sheep Creek Valley of Chugach State Park. Members also assisted the Boy Scouts with their Freeze-a Ree 2001 winter camping event by offering training to groups of scouts on winter survival and winter camping equipment.

Other issues addressed by the club in 2001 included development of a task force to consider growing commercial (guide) use of the club’s backcountry huts during the prime climbing seasons. A draft commercial use policy was developed, and the club is clarifying the legal standing of the huts with the State of Alaska in order to devise strategies for addressing growth in occupation of the huts by commercial guides. The club also met with the National Park Service several times to discuss the proposed Denali Rescue Cost Recovery study ordered by Congress as well as the Denali Backcountry Management Plan that is under development.

Bill Romberg