Skiing Across Alaska

Mar 29, 2011
Outside Magazine

Michael Ferrara and Lhotse, Photo by Paolo Marchesi Michael Ferrara and Lhotse, Photo by Paolo Marchesi

To raise awareness about first responders diagnosed with PTSD, guest blogger Michael Ferrara plans to ski 900 miles across Alaska, south to north, from the Pacific Ocean to the Arctic Ocean, with his dog Lhotse trotting beside him. To learn more about Ferrara's quest, read The Man Who Saw Too Much and check out his web site,

We arrived in ANC on Thursday afternoon. Traveling with Lhotse is like traveling with Brad Pitt.  Everyone in the airport wants to meet him and stares. No waiting in security lines for Hollywood Lhotse—it's employee/VIP all the way. The TSA folks were fighting over whose line he came through. On the way from MSP to ANC, some guy gave up his seat in first class so Lhotse could have more room. Then we couldn't get off the plane until all the crew had their picture taken with him.

I do have to say he was great. Totally aloof, focused on the task. Once on the plane he lay down and didn't move till we landed. He would occassionally give me that look of, "What is wrong with these people?"

We have changed the route. Due to the logistics. Getting Lhotse and the gear to Valdez turned out to be problematic.  So we're going to leave from just north of Anchorage, get on the Susitna river and head north into Denai National Park. It's a simple change really, we'll just cross the Alaska range and not the Chugach.

Daryl Miller, the recently retired Chief Ranger for Denai, came over last night and gave me some beta on the route. He skied it during his circumnavigation of the Denali. Unfortunately, there were a lot of pictures of him falling through the ice.

We're trying to strip off any weight we can. Food will not be gourmet or varied, but it will provide calories.  We saved 4 pounds by going with a 2-person tent instead of a 3-person tent. Lhotse will just have to put up with my smell.  One of the special forces guys just brought over a 44 mag. I can leave the shotgun and drop 8 pounds.

Thanks for all your support and I'll see you in May,
Actually Daryl calls me Mongo ever since one of the MRA team was at an meeting in Alaska and told him that name.

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