Descending into the Promised Land

Once the prospectors reached the summit of Valdez Glacier, they had a short, but steep, descent to make down the Klutina Glacier to the Klutina River Valley. Compared to the Valdez Glacier side of the route, it was easy, but still there were hazards.

Prospectors soon discovered that at times it could be just as difficult, if not even more dangerous, to descend a glacier as to climb one. Traveling downward on a slick, well-packed trail with a heavy load, the prospectors used their "gee" poles to act as brakes. When the "gee" pole failed, and it frequently did, they steered their sleds off into the soft snow and felt lucky if it only took them a day to retrieve and repack their upset gear. The unlucky ones watched their goods roll and tumble into Klutina Glacier's crevasses, and perhaps gave thanks that it was only their possessions that descended into the glacier's depths.

By mid-July 1898, there were 300 prospectors camped at "Timber" or "Twelve-Mile" Camp so-called because it was twelve miles from the Summit. Here men who had spent six weeks shivering on the glacier, suddenly found themselves perspiring in the summer heat and swatting mosguitoes. Addison Powell wrote, "It is very probable that many of those mosquitoes could whip a wolf. They were the embodiment of bravery. I have seen, a single mosquito attack a full-grown dog."

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