Ascending Path Blog

Ascending Path is an Alaskan climbing and eco-tourism guide service operating since 1995 world-wide and since 2002 in Alaska. We are AMGA accredited, providing technical climbing instruction and guiding and naturalist guiding in the beautiful mountains of South Central Alaska.
This Blog contains some older adventure stories, news and guides musings... for more current news and trip stories, visit our Facebook page- Enjoy!

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Thanks for a great season everyone- You guys rock!!
Matt & Heather

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Crow Pass Day Hike

Though it was rainy most of the outing, we had a large group of 24 of hearty Alaskan visitors from Japan. They were awesome hikers and thoroughly prepared in full rain gear! We had a great time with the Japanese guides interpreting what the Ascending Path Naturalists were pointing out and discussing. We were fully impressed at how fit and well trained for hiking our guests were (we even had a few hikers in their 70's)! Everyone enjoyed the day. We look forward to more Crow Pass outings but perhaps in the sun next time :)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A Day Out of the Office!

Ok, office person becomes guide for a day. And I am sure at this point in time everyone is tired of hearing me talk about my first Glacier Hike as a guide....but i LOVED it. Maybe it was the super beautiful day or the super fun clients or just the awesome guides on the trip....but it was certainly one of my summer highlights - Ok, i haven't been getting out very much. Enjoy the photos!

My first clients!

Cathy and me! Should have gotten a shot of all of us...Heather, Ryan, Cathy and me.

One of the rope teams heading up the bowl.

A little slide show for your viewing pleasure!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Guest Comments

Hey fellow bloggers! Hope everyone is having an awesome summer! I just wanted to post some great comments we've been getting about everyone written by our clients in the guest comment book!

"Most enjoyable walk; Bobbie is very knowledgeable. Thanks!"

" Olive-Sided Flycatcher, Ruby Crowned Kinglet, Rofous Humming Bird, Townsends Warbler, Spruce Grouse- A great day for birds! Thanks Beth!"

" Our first outdoor climb, fabulous! Taught the basics and more! Thanks for the scars dudes!"

"Matt and Sherrie were the absolutely most awesome guide! Purely excellence! Thanks"

"Heather was an awesome guide.. she kept me climbing!"

"We came, we climbed, and we conquered! We had a blast. Thanks Pete and Dave!"

"My Body hurts all over but the ice climbing was worth it! I would do it again in a heartbeat!"

" We all thought Dave was great! He even told us we had small butts! I feel so proud at 68.5, with Dave's encouragement I hiked on a glacier!"

"This was the best part of our Alaska trip- Ascending Path is a great company from our experience with Alex to Ryan the SUPER GUIDE!"

"Erika is a black bear magnet!"

and my favorite....
"You should open a sled portion for the climb down"

Keep up the great work guys.. and i'll get to rounding up the sleds!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Beautiful Day on the Byron

Conditions are great getting up to the Byron Glacier this year.....instead of crossing a huge talus slope, you cross a huge avalanche debris slope, I'd rather walk on snow than talus any day!

Clients Hiking Up


Misty Mountains and Portage Lake


Approaching the Toe of the Icefall


As I was looking through the pics, I realized I didn't take one picture once we got to the base where we set up ropes....I was pretty busy belaying! We rotated six clients between the two ropes, and I think everyone climbed at least 3 times, if not four. Lots of smiles all around : )
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Monday, July 7, 2008

Glacier Bowl by Air

Hey there... while scouting for a film production the other day, I got some shots of the bowl from the heli...

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Guides Training

Better late than never! But had some photos from our training a few weeks past and thought even though its been awhile it would be worthy to post them.

Guides training I have to say feels like it was months ago....Alaska summers go fast and it constantly feels like a race to get it all in!

Into the woods we go! I finally made it back to tram rock for an afternoon of climbing and thought the routes were super worthy!

I will say it certainly was a pleasure spending time with you all.....hope our paths will cross again! If your ever in Anchor-town swing by the office and say hello!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Okay, I know after this I'll have posted twice, but after yesterday I feel I should share. After almost 4 years in Alaska, over a dozen bear encounters and many "bear talks," I finally had a scary encounter.

The bear I encountered yesterday while hiking with two clients was not very happy with our presence and wanted us out of there. This ocurred just before the bridge at the gorge on Winner Creek, and though I actually followed procedure, the bear still "charged." Fortunately I didn't have to spray the bear, as he/she darted to the right over a morrain several feet before reaching us.

In hindsight, I'm glad that I didn't spray because I was definitely NOT thinking about things like wind direction at the last moment there.

Honestly, I was surprised at how my body reacted. My mouth went dry and I wasn't frightened until afterwards. I just went into focus/numb mode.

The reason I think the bear followed us is that the male client didn't listen to my initial instructions. He really wanted some good pictures of the bear so I think he may have even taken a few steps toward the bear despite my instructions to move behind me (I had the spray). I had given them instructions about bears at the trailhead and then ironically, we revisited the subject about 10 minutes before our encounter.

When the bear first approached, we all raised our arms over our head and yelled "HEY BEAR! GET OUT OF HERE BEAR!" but he kept coming anyway. We then backed slowly away, still making ourselves appear large and yelling, until we were over the bridge, and until the bear started running towards us, across the bridge, and until, fortunately, he/she ran off to the right.

Be bear aware! Any other recent encounters?

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Flora this Week

High Bush Cranberry

Dwarf Dogwood

Twisted Stalk/Watermelon Berry


Devil's Club Ragbag Lichen

Pink Pyrola




Goat's Beard

Hello dear friends....

Phil and I went out the other night and snapped some shots of current plants on the Winner Creek Trail. Here are a few in case you are interested. In another week or two I'll try to take some updated photos.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Thanks for those who helped us along our Path

Welcome to our blog world. We are psyched to let you all know that in 6 years of running The Ascending Path in Alaska we have the best crew of employees yet! Our little company, that Matt started in 1995 as a Climbing bum trying to get his way paid to go climbing, has grown to have 17 employees!!! They are mostly part-timers and seasonal guides working during our busy summer season, but WOW 17 awesome, highly qualified, personable and outstanding individuals. Even though Matt & I have scrimped and worked our asses off for 6 years growing the business, it is finally at a place where we are confident we have the right crew. A place where for the first time in 6 years, Matt & I will be able to relax and not worry too too much about how the business is going to make enough to feed us and now 17 others. We feel so very grateful to be in a place where we can smile knowing that the tireless nights and stress will be defrayed by employees who truly care and are passionate about sharing nature and climbing. We love what we do. We are glad our employees do so also. As my business partner and husband says, "The Way is the Goal!" Even though the way, our way has been bumpy and at times very scary not knowing what having a business would be like, we like the roads we have traveled. Thanks to all of you who have helped us grow and support us on our path. And yes, we too are sorry that we cannot plan in advance in the summer and have fun outings with friends very frequently because work consumes us. But maybe, that will be the days of the we look very positively forward to our 6th summer running a eco-tourism business.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hi all,
Just wanted to thank you for the great experience! Ryan was the consumate professional. Starting with leading us to Timbuktoo (that's Matanuska to you) right out of the rain and into some solid ice and eventual sunshine!! He taught us safely and well. We all got our fill, even the guys!! We old people were a little sore the next day but none the worse for wear! We would recommend your company highly!
Thanks again!! The Miller Family

Monday, March 31, 2008

Working on Star Trek 11 with Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures came up to do a second unit plate shoot for CGI work with the new Star Trek 11 that released summer 2009. Paramount hire The Ascending Path and about 9 of our guides to work as glacier safety, glacier support, stunts, helo coordinators, medics, and stunt doubles for Capt. Kirk & Spock!!! We worked for few days on this in March of 2008 but were sworn to secrecy until the movie released in the theaters. Basically they shot images that they then used in the Ice Planet scene, they used the ice caves on the Knik as a template to build on on a sound stage. Bill Billmeyer and Pete Gresham were both on camera and made the final cut in the movie as stunt doubles in the Monster chase scene and the large scenic aerial shot of Capt. Kirk walking on a glacier by himself after crash landing on the ice planet. Awesome project to work on!!! ---Heather Szundy