EXPLORE: Modern Alaskan History, & Fall into the Classic Accounts of Ice & Snow Exploration

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 13 April 2019



Physical History of Alaska’s Gold Rush

Iditarod: one of the last Gold Rush towns,
AGU, April 9, 2019.


The article above concerns the historical, contemporary, and geological observations of Iditarod City by two geologists taking a fine backpacking ski trip through the interior of Alaska along a portion of the Iditarod Trail.
They've timed their trip after the Iditarod racers had completed the race, and all their supporters, press, and spectators had departed from the namesake ghost town of Iditarod, while the racers themselves had left behind a fine trail through the tundra snows these intreprid geologists could follow and explore on ski, hiking between remote Alaskan villages along the race’s route.

More from the Geologists

Geology of the Iditarod
Oldest rock in Alaska is near Iditarod

Now that we're up in the endless expanses of sub-arctic tundra...



Jack London
The Ultimate Yukon-Tundra Survival Stories

Adventures in the Alaskan Tundra

Love of Life,
Jack London, Macmillan, 1907.

To Build a Fire,
Jack London, 1908.

The links above are to Project Guttenberg’s public domain editions.


More Adventures in the Ice & Snow

Your next step down the trail of a literary-historical exploration of polar experiences and explorations would be to check out some of the real, classic accounts of Arctic explorations contemporary with London’s works above. I'd suggest Nansen’s Arctic adventure in the Fram as being of note for setting the stage for the selection of technological and, "style," of approaches to Ice and Snow travel that were then available, which draws us to Nansen's account in Furthest North.

Furthest North is Nansen's account of he and Johansen's 1895 expedition attempting to reach the North Pole, during which they achieved, with great hardship, the Furthest North mark of their day, reaching 86 degrees, 14 minutes North.

Old Blighty!
You might then want to flip the script, & take the long hike South down to Antarctica, to investigate Shackleton’s accounts of the British Empire's South Pole expeditions, which are nothing short of amazing. Old Blighty's not sinking, she's getting crushed by ice...with the stiffest of upper lips staying calm and pushing through...

Furthest North,
Nansen, 1897.

Shackleton, 1919.

All the links above are to Project Guttenberg’s public domain editions.


A fine work putting all of these adventures into a broader context, and capping-off that era of expeditions racing to be the first to the world's poles, is Huntford's,

The Last Place on Earth: Scott and Amundsen's Race to the South Pole,
Huntford, Modern Library, 1999.


Happy Exploring!

Now get out there and do some of your own... Heavy Spring snow conditions in the Sierra are a real treat for the properly prepped, skilled, and fit High Sierra backpacker. Go get all three, then go get you some snow-covered mountains...


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