camera gear at sub-zero temperatures presents some
unusual challenges. The camera assistant on this trip,
Dealtry Pickford, discovered that even changing film can
be difficult since bare skin will sometimes freeze to the
metal camera and the film itself turns brittle and the
edges become so sharp that you have to be careful to
avoid deep "paper cuts" on fingers already
numbed by the cold. Batteries go dead much faster in the
cold and must be carried (and slept with) close to the
body and connected to the camera with a cord run down the
sleeve. Camera and lenses must be lubricated with special
grease so that their movements don't freeze up solid. In
weather this cold, breathing anywhere near the front of
the lenses or the eyepiece will leave the glass surfaces
looking as frosty as a beer mug fresh from the freezer.
And then there are the other details one must
keep in mind when traveling on glaciers, like how deep
the crevasses are and what it would be like to fall into
one. Crevasses can be concealed with thin layers of snow
that give way without warning under the weight of a man
on skis. We wisely hired extremely competent guides to
supervise all our glacier work, and they assured us that
being roped up together and traveling in single file
would provide us with the necessary margin of safety.
we slept inside rugged mountaineering tents, but when the
wind came, up, we made a sturdy igloo that accommodated
the four of us quite comfortably. It is stunning to see
an igloo illuminated by candles within, perched on a
ridge above a massive glacier under a starry sky streaked
with green and pink shafts of the northern lights.
Access up into even the foothills of this impressive mountain range would have been completely impractical without the use of rugged little ski-planes, compact four-passenger aircraft that sport skis instead of wheels. As well as delivering us and our gear into hard to reach spots, we used these planes for all of our aerial photography. Robert Fulton, a cameraman who specializes in shooting from planes, used a front-facing camera mount and lump-in-your-throat flying to capture some of the most memorable aerial motion picture images ever shot in the peaks near Mount Denali.
Within the boundary of Denali National Park, a dog sled is the one of the few ways of getting around during the winter, especially if you are lugging 100 pounds of camera gear with you.