Background

valley_of_ten_thousand_smokesIn 1912, the largest volcanic eruption of the twentieth century occurred in a remote chain of alpine volcanoes on the Alaska Peninsula. The eruption released several cubic miles of ash into the air, temporarily altering the global climate, and filled an adjacent valley hundreds of feet deep with volcanic outflow. For over a decade, gasses and smoke poured out of countless vents in the ground, leading to the site's unforgettable name: The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. In just over a hundred years since the eruption, water has etched magnificent, deep canyons into the volcanic terrain. In the last decades, the rapidly-changing climate has caused the glaciers that once ringed Katmai Caldera and the surrounding peaks to peel back, allowing new, novel non-technical approaches on this terrain. We tend to think of mountain environments as the product of hundreds of millions of years of imperceptible change, but Katmai, with its volcanic eruptions, rapid erosion, and vulnerability to climate change, demonstrates that mountain environments can change radically on a human time scale.

Our team seeks to explore, document, and share this environment and the lessons we can draw from it with a broad public audience.

Brett Woelber

Brett Woelber

Brett Woelber lives in Anchorage, Alaska. He has extensive experience with expedition planning, wilderness medicine, and boat safety. He works as a geologist and volunteers with the Alyeska ski patrol. In 2013, he was the primary applicant for and winner of the prestigious Fischer-Kellogg Memorial Grant from the American Alpine Club.

Lucas Swart

Lucas Swart

Lucas was born in the Netherlands and was raised in the Rocky Mountains in Bozeman, Montana where he enjoyed various outdoor activities including mountain biking, rock climbing, and kayaking. He currently lives in Seattle, Washington and spends his time alpine climbing and mountaineering. Other interests include photography, painting, and bread baking.

Paxson Woelber

Paxson Woelber

Paxson grew up climbing, boating, and biking in Anchorage, Alaska. His creative outdoor media work has been featured in National Geographic, the Atlantic, USA Today, the Huffington Post, Outside TV, and more.

Chelsea Ward-Waller

Chelsea Ward-Waller

Chelsea is an accomplished endurance athlete, with multiple triathlon wins in major races, and an experienced outdoorswoman. In 2013, Chelsea walked and packrafted over 300 miles across the Alaska arctic as a member of Expedition Arguk.