MichaelgSeamans's Blog

Illiterate ramblings from a photographer.

Two Climbers, Two Feet and Two Mountains: In Chad Jukes Words

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Chad Jukes gives the thumb up sign in Silverton, Colo., March 19, 2010.

This week I have enlisted Amped Alaska Expedition member, Chad Jukes to write this week’s Two Climbers, Two Feet and Two Mountains blog. Jukes and climbing partner Chad Butrick have been preparing for the past three months to be the first disabled climbing team to climb three routes in the Ruth Gorge in the remote Alaska Range this May. Check out the gallery of Chad Jukes at the bottom of this blog post.

Chad Jukes leads a route in the Ouray Ice Park in Ouray, Colo., on March 9, 2010.

In Chad Jukes words…

Back in December I headed down to Ouray for a week of ice climbing. One of the reasons for making this trip was Amped Outdoors first Kids Ice Climbing College of the season. I was psyched to get on some fresh early season ice, only a week after the ice park had opened. Also I was excited to get out and climb with the kids.

After a wildly successful kids college, we were gathered talking about the future of Amped Outdoors, and how to raise money for the organization. I was telling Mark Miller that I could do slide shows to promote the organization. I have done one slide show in the past year, and it seemed to be very well received despite the fact that I have no big climbs to wow the audience, simply my story of being injured in Iraq and continuing to climb.

It was at that point Mark suggested Alaska.

Over the following weeks, we discussed the potential of climbing Mini Moonflower and the Mooses Tooth. The original discussion was to plan the trip for Spring 2011 so we could have ample time to prepare and raise the money necessary. A couple weeks later I was back in Ouray for the week of the Ice Festival. I was having a great time climbing with my friends, and was feeling strong. During the Ice Fest, Mark suggested that we talk about making Alaska happen this year… I was stoked, and nervous. Jim McCarthy, a previous president of the American Alpine Club and board member who I admire greatly, told me if you wait until you are ready, you will never go. Now I feel that preparation is necessary, but I also understand what he was saying and I think it makes complete sense, especially for a first expedition.

At this point, I had said yes… I had committed… and I had to find a partner just crazy enough to commit to head up there with me. I thought about going with one of my partners from home, but they all were in school, which wouldn’t be over in time. I thought about it more, and figured that it would be great to have a partner who was also disabled, and Chad Butrick came to mind as a strong climber with a lot of experience mountaineering in Colorado. I decided that he would make a good solid partner, and gave him a call. There was little hesitation in his voice when I asked if he wanted to go to Alaska with me. He was as excited as I was and we knew we had it in us. A lot of training and preparation was ahead, however. We both knew we weren’t there yet.

So now, after a few months of intensive climbing and training, we are both feeling strong and confident. It hasn’t been easy, or always fun. It has definitely been a great time, learning to operate with Chad Butrick as a team, becoming more comfortable with my own abilities, and definitely, at times, “embracing the suck” as we would say in the Army. We had a lot of trouble this spring getting into the backcountry. The weather was definitely more friendly to skiers, while the heavy snows were shutting us out of many routes we wanted to get on due to unacceptable avalanche danger.

The ice is now melting down here in Utah and Colorado, and the countdown has begun… In just over a month we are going to be flying up to Anchorage to begin this adventure.

I would like to graciously thank Amped Outdoors for helping to make this happen. We are doing this climb in their name, in order to help raise awareness and funds for this great organization which is helping people with disabilities learn to climb, as well as running the kids ice climbing college in Ouray. I would also like to thank Black Diamond, Pacific Outdoors, Mystery Ranch, and Paradox Sports for sponsoring us. This climb couldn’t happen without them.

And Of course thank you Mike for coming along and documenting our attempts at these worthy summits.

Written by michael G. Seamans

April 8, 2010 at 11:51 am

One Response

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  1. Great pics Mike!!! I love the close-up of the ice-pick-claw while Jukes hangs below. You bring me a new respect for a Red Sox fan. Go Yanks!!!!

    Brian Young

    April 9, 2010 at 9:20 pm


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