APU in Print: Newspaper Showcases Student’s View of Harding Icefield Traverse

Outdoor writing by Emma Walker, ’14, is featured by the Peninsula Clarion following Walker’s crossing of the Harding Icefield, a 300-square mile expanse encompassing some 40 glaciers and located in the Kenai Mountains.

A student in the Master of Science in Outdoor and Environmental Education program, Walker took part in the University’s Expedition Mountaineering course offered through the Outdoor Studies Department. The course is a key step in the OS undergraduate and graduate curriculum for students seeking to become professional guides or instructors.

OS graduate and professional guide Heather Thamm, ’03, led the expedition along with adjunct instructors Joe Stock and Mik Jedlicka. Students first spent time in the Talkeetna Mountains where they learned basic mountaineering. They then loaded still-damp gear into University vans and headed south to the Kenai Peninsula for the start of 13-day traverse of the Harding Icefield.

Walker’s column was published July 18 following the Harding traverse in mid-May.

“I have always enjoyed writing,” Walker told the APU Blog. “People write well about things they feel passionate about. For a lot of outdoorsy types, the adventures we have outside inspire that kind of enthusiasm.”

She said that Stock’s observation – reminding climbers to stay alert for reasons to turn back while in the mountains – is among real-world lessons that active learning at APU makes possible.

“I really like the idea that if you’re doing your job as a climber, you’re aware of all the potential hazards and constantly assessing them,” she said.

Walker is originally from Boulder, Colo., and grew up skiing, hiking and climbing in the Rocky Mountains. The Harding crossing began on a muddy trail near Skilak Lake and was followed by bushwhacking, knee-deep mud and long days hauling sleds over alpine passes. Among rewards: sun bathing on a mountain summit near Exit Glacier.

“I was definitely reminded that with mountaineering, getting to an objective is half the battle – or half the fun, depending on your outlook,” Walker says.

“But the payoff – no crowds, a view that doesn’t include roads or city skylines – is totally worth it.”


Read the full story by Emma Walker in the Peninsula Clarion here.


APU is Alaska’s private four-year baccalaureate arts and science university. We’re committed to experiential learning that incorporates Alaska as our classroom. APU is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action institution.