Snapshot: All-Female Ski Team Crushes Alaska’s Wrangell St Elias Mountains

The plane engines buzzed as Shel­don Kerr, Lind­say Mann, Erin Smart, and myself head­ed into Alaska’s Wrangell St Elias Moun­tains with our hopes set on mak­ing the first female ski descent of the fore­bod­ing Uni­ver­si­ty Peak. The area was expe­ri­enc­ing the warmest tem­per­a­tures in 20 years and as we flew around the moun­tain, all we could see was ice and rock. Forced to choose an alter­na­tive des­ti­na­tion, we retreat­ed high­er to the Barnard Glac­i­er in hopes of bet­ter con­di­tions. Very few peo­ple had been there before us. But the ladies were ready, and though the route was treach­er­ous, they skied it suc­cess­ful­ly, with the style and grace that makes them some of the best ath­letes on the planet. 


1.  (L to R) Shel­don Kerr checks the maps after wit­ness­ing the bare bones of Uni­ver­si­ty Peak and dis­cuss­es with Lind­say Mann oth­er options to set base camp at. 


2.  Shel­don Kerr salutes at the cam­era as she pre­pares to head out from base camp to Super Cub Peak with Lind­say Mann chow­ing down on break­fast in the background. 


3.  (L to R) Erin Smart, Shel­don Kerr and Lind­say Mann go in for a chest bump as the sun sets over Barnard Glacier. 


4.  Shel­don Kerr climbs up an un-named peak off the Barnard Glacier. 


5.  (L to R) Shel­don Kerr and Lind­say Mann tour up Barnard Glac­i­er toward Super Cub Peak for more scout­ing missions. 


6.  (L to R) Shel­don Kerr, Erin Smart and Lind­say Mann leave base camp to search out new lines.


7.  Shel­don Kerr leads the way with Lind­say Mann fol­low­ing behind as they head up new ter­rain to explore.


8.  Shel­don Kerr nav­i­gates icy con­di­tions as she skis beside an ice field on the Barnard Glacier.