Shred the Pow

ODS embarks on capstone journey


Staff Writer, UAS Whalesong

Nine University of Alaska Southeast Outdoor Studies students planned to spend 17 days in May skiing some of the largest mountains on the planet.

“The only experience I have for skiing besides what we’ve done this semester has been resort skiing,” said Sol Martinez, a UAS freshman studying geography and environmental science with an outdoor emphasis.

The students will test their skills on Kahiltna glacier in the ODS capstone that combines ability and experience with the goal of outdoor leadership.

“I’m excited to have an expedition into the Alaska range with this very talented and motivated group,” said Forest Wagner, Assistant Professor of Outdoor Studies. “This group in particular has done a great job with the fundraising and preparations, and I’m excited to see what we are actually able to do in the Alaska range.” 

Students will set up a base camp and will try to climb and ski any of the different peaks in the Ramparts. 

“I haven’t skied much powder before so the idea of testing my skills out and skiing a different area in a different climate is very exciting,” Martinez said.

Capstones differ from year to year, from sea kayaking to overland traversal, but climbing and skiing are the main activities. 

In order to get a certificate or a degree in the ODS program, students must complete the required courses and capstone. This year, seven ODS students will receive their certificate after the capstone.

Brinna Snow is a sophomore exchange student from Maine participating in the Outdoor Studies Certificate program. 

“Everyone was pretty stoked to go skiing particularly in the Chugach, but we decided that the Alaska range was a similar trip with better weather and logistics,” Snow said. The Alaska range is a unique place to ski.

When asked what she is most anxious for, Snow replied with, “Powder, snow, shredding!” 

The capstone is more than just an outing for some students, including Snow. 

“I am in such a different place than I was last year, there has been so much growth and the capstone is the pinnacle of that. I am more well-rounded and more me than I ever was before. Now I can continue to use these skills and be better every time I go out,” Snow said. 

The students decided they wanted to fundraise and integrate the university and community in the project.

“We decided to make t-shirts, not only to bring awareness to the ODS program but to help fundraise for the capstone,” Martinez said. 

A community-wide design contest brought in entries from UAS and Juneau elementary and high schools.  P.K. Woo, a student at UAS, won the design contest. The design is block print style mountains and is now on stickers and shirts for sale.

“Student government passed a bill in the fall to award us a lump sum of money, to fundraise and promote the university rather than the back and forth travel grant requests. The t-shirts are the first into a broader, multi-year, fundraising/outreach effort on behalf of ODS students,” Wagner said.

Contact any ODS student, Forest Wagner or Brinna Snow to purchase a t-shirt. 

Some of the ODS classes offered in Fall 2019 include introduction to fly fishing, backpacking in Southeast Alaska and introduction to rock climbing. For more on the Outdoor Studies and Leadership program, visit the UAS website. 

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