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Michael Ferrara Changes Route for Be First Expedition to Ski Across Alaska
Posted on March 30, 2011

Michael Ferrara attempts to be the first to ski across Alaska—from Valdez to Prudhoe Bay—in order to raise awareness for civilian PTSD, which Michael has suffered from as the result of a 30-year career in search & rescue and other first responder services. Michael will be making this 800-mile journey with his dog, Lhotse. Our Be First program is an opportunity to get sponsored when you go for your own summit, whatever that may be. To learn more and submit your proposals, visit Be First. -EB Editor

By Michael Ferrara

We arrived in Anchorage on Thursday. Traveling with Lhotse is a trip. It’s like traveling with Brad Pitt. Everybody wants to meet him, take a picture of him, get an autograph.

There’s no waiting in line for “Hollywood” Lhotse. The TSA folks were almost fighting over whose line he went through—of course, the VIP line.  On the plane to Anchorage some guy gave up his seat in first class so Lhotse could have more room. We couldn’t get off the plane until the crew got their pictures taken with Hollywood Lhotse.

But I must say, he did a great job. He was focused the whole way. He responded to each command as it was given. Once we were on the plane, he lied at my feet the whole way.

Big news: We have changed the route. Getting Lhotse and all the gear to Valdex turned out to be problematic, so we’re going to leave from just north of Anchorage. Once we’re there we plan to get onto the Susitna river and travel on it for as far as we can. Eventually we will end up in Denali National Park, and we’ll traverse across the park. Sounds good, now let’s see if it goes.

Weight is our big issue. We’re trimming where ever we can. We’re going with a two-person instead of a three-person tent. Lhotse will just have to live with smelling me in the tent. One of the para-rescue guys just brought me a 44 magnum. Now I can leave the shotgun and save eight pounds. Meals will be simple, repetitive and dull, but they will supply the needed calories.

I have been testing my First Ascent gear, and I must say I’m impressed. At the 2009 Telluride Mountainfilm Festival I had looked at the gear and gotten on the mailing list then, having been impressed with the quality of the things I saw.

I took the Serrano out for a run yesterday. I can understand why it was so hard to come by. It’s the perfect cold weather exercise jacket. It’s just warm enough in front and the stretch panels under the arm release heat without letting in cold air.

I took my guide pants out skiing in Snowmass. It was a cool day and I was on the ski area with nordic gear. I didn’t think they had enough insulation and didn’t seem like they would breath. I was wrong on both points. I was never cold and although I was exercising hard (I’m not that good skiing downhill on Nordic gear), I never felt clammy.

I’m only taking the lightweight down jacket [Downlight Sweater] with me. It seems with a sweater underneath I can handle the cold nights out there. I’ll let you know.

Author: - Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

  1. Randy

    I have had the privilege of meeting Michael a couple of times this year. He is very engaging and willing to share his experiences and mentor others. I appreciate his attitude and respect his contributions and commitment to helping others. It is unbelievable what he has seen and experienced and I hope we can all respect what sar experts do for us. The only question I have is how do we contribute to michael’s cause.

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