Marc Ankenbauer's 10+ year quest to jump in every named lake in Glacier and Waterton National Parks for charity.
168 lakes. Only 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
-- Marc jumped into Fisher Cap Lake on Sunday September 8th, 2013 to complete his goal! --
Read about Marc and how this project started...

The Magical Moments of Calm

How many of you have experienced Glacier National Park, during her rare, entirely calm moments?

There is nothing quite like standing at the foot of Two Medicine Lake, at midnight when the lake is perfect glass.

A full moon finally slipping into what sky the mountains leave unfilled.


The moon illuminates the Sinopah while the lake mirrors it and every canoe tucked along the shore.

The chalet boathouse providing the only man-made light, somehow adds instead of detracting from the whole.

Appistoki Peak oversees his entire domain and dwarfs the tiny historic buildings.


The whole scene is flanked on all sides by enormous, mountainous silhouettes.

Unique names like Rising Wolf, Sinopah, Lone Walker, Painted Tepee and Never Laughs all take on their imagined, midnight personalities.

Much like clouds can look like dragons, poodles or hoagie sandwiches.


When dawn rises from the east, each mountain will reassume its daytime persona.

But, right now they are powerful beings from a night time universe.

For me this is when the park is at her most romantic and enchanting, begging you to sit just a few minutes longer.

At this very second you are more than aware that that these are the moments you are supposed to catalog and store away for use in the future.

Delaying logical, much needed sleep, and ignoring the human instinct to go inside, simply to extend the magic for just a tiny bit longer.


It is a tough feeling to forget.

The smell of actively growing July vegetation.

The sound of literally everything other than the standard east side winds.

The feel of sitting on cold, flat shore rocks as you take in the profound scene unfurling around you.


Those moments are what get us by when life is not as… Perfect.

Glacier National Park draw over a million travelers and wilderness seeking nomads every year.

I have always loved meeting people who haven’t been to Glacier in decades.

Often, the simple fact that it’s out there, just like they remember is calming.

Somehow it’s a centering, grounding reality check in an often chaotic world.

As I was huddled indoors on this gloomy, February afternoon, with my head cold in full effect,  I found myself yearning for it.

I figured that I probably wasn’t the only one.

Pull from the catalog, que up the memory…

Maybe these photo will help.

To Life,

Marc Ankenbauer


*Do you have any personal experiences with the magic of Glacier on a calm night?  I’m sure you do!  Lets hear them.

New Years Music – Songs stuck in my head while hiking


New Years Eve is a festive, musical holiday.

So, I thought I would put out a few New Years Eve songs.

Keeping on theme, I figured I’d combine with notable songs that have stuck in my head while hiking through the years.

More than anything, I just wanted to toss out some music!


Turning the calendar to a new year is filled with varied emotions.

Sometimes it’s about wishing humanity safe travels and luck on their journey.

Sometimes, it’s about looking back on the amazing friends, family and moments that have made you who you are today.

Sometimes it’s about simply dancing and having a good time.

And, sometimes, just sometimes…it’s about Fighting For Your Right To Party!

Here’s a selection.

And, Happy New Years!


“Messages” is an amazing song about wishing someone you love, good luck with life and the “changes that will come”.

It reminds me of parting ways with life’s countless great aquaintances.

The ones you almost certainly won’t ever see again.

We pass through each other’s lives, affecting each other, much more dramatically than we imagine.

“With each gift that you share
You may heal and repair
With each choice you make
You may help someone’s day
Well I know you are strong
May your journey be long
And now I wish you the best of luck”.

-Xavier Rudd- “Messages”



On a lighter note, enter Lionel Richie, “All Night Long.”

I once got this song stuck in my head for the entire length of a week-long backpacking trip in Smoky Mountain National Park with my friend Scott.

Any song will feel like it’s haunting you after a week.

However, I put it to you to find a more cheery and upbeat song to wake up to in a rainy tent on day 4.

I think Lionel summed New Years up perfectly…

“Well, my friends, the time has come
To raise the roof and have some fun
Throw away the work to be done
Let the music play on

Everybody sing, everybody dance
Lose yourself in wild romance
We’re going to party


-Lionel Richie-

 P.S. Check out the costumes!  Wow!  




Macklemore has become a house hold name in 2013.

“Thrift Store”, “Same Love” and “Can’t Hold Us” all went big throughout the year.

I introduce a song called “Cowboy Boots”.

I’ve never heard a song that makes me think of my best old friends and the amazing times that we’ve had, more than this song.

Think back…

Remember when you and some friends, simply OWNED the moment you were living.

I’m lucky to have been in many situations when I knew I was a part of a “special place and time”.

You know what I’m talking about.

Be that your senior year in high school, that spectacular coffee shop job in college, your first transformative year of seasonal work or sitting on the front porch of the ski resort enjoying a pint as the sun goes down.

Whatever that moment is, your life was forever changed and memories of it lift your soul!

This song does that for me….

“And acquaintances turn to friends,

I hope those friends they remember me

Hold the night for ransom as we kidnap the memories

Not sure there is a way to express what you meant to me

Sit around a table and use those years as the centerpiece.”

-Macklemore and Ryan Lewis-



Then there’s the immortal, simple wisdom of the Beastie Boys…

“KICK IT”!!!




I would love to hear about the songs that get stuck in your head.

Leave them in the comments!


Happy New Year!

Let us toast to the Bright Future of 2014!

May it be a good one!

To Life,

Marc Ankenbauer

Christmas, in the most remote place on earth


ago christmas 19


Christmas Eve, one year ago, was profoundly different than today’s.

Christmas 2012 was spent with two friendly and brilliant, albeit quirky engineers from New Jersey, in the most remote place on earth.


ago christmas 1



By the time Christmas rolled around, we had become friends.

They are great guys.

We had a fine time.

But, I can’t imagine a more bizarrely placed Christmas will ever befall me.


ago christmas 2


Bob and Andy are the engineers for the AGO project, which work on and stay at five remote  camps in the Eastern Antarctic Plateau.

I was their Field Camp Coordinator.


They’ve spent a whole lot of time holed up at these “camps”.

During my season, we never broke ten days at any camp.

But, they have been stuck for two to three weeks before waiting for a pickup.

The name of the game in Antarctica, is patience.

You have to be ready to make the most of your time while marooned, no matter where or when it happened.


ago christmas 3


The AGO sites aren’t even field camps, they are dots on a map…a very, very small dot.

They consists of an 8’ by 16’ building that resembled a red single wide trailer on stilts.

They are made of five inch thick fiberglass insulation and closed up with a freezer door.


ago christmas 3


A wind turbine and propane heater, make it a manageable temp inside.

Eventually, that is.

When we arrive it is -25F inside, just like it is outside.

The structure holds all the electronics, but doubles as a tiny common area.

We sleep in two person mountaineering tents in the “front yard” and use the building to keep warm during the day.


ago christmas 4


There are five of these structures,  and they were placed strategically throughout the Eastern  Antarctic Plateau.

Well, there is actually six of them.

The sixth one got covered by blowing snow and has since been lost in time, never to be unearthed.



ago Christmas 5


We had been dropped off at AGO 1 by a Twin Otter, along with supplies and gobs of electronics.

We had all of our work completed after about four days, and were ready for pick up.

But, it was now day nine.


ago Christmas 6


We had plans of spending Christmas at the South Pole.

While The Pole, is still a wild place to spend a holiday, it is quite the event.

There is an elaborate dinner with deserts and a few cocktails.

Christmas lights line the walls and it’s as “Christmas” as it can be, while essentially being in a space station.


ago Christmas 7


Over 150 unique and wonderful faces were waiting to eat well, and enjoy a Christmas party fit for the South Pole.


ago Christmas 8


The South Pole Station even has a Christmas tree and Santa-like thing.

I don’t know the dolls story, but it is odd to say the least.

The tree has been crafted out of pipes, wrenches and other odds and ends, all welded together.

That’s as good as it gets,  seeing as the closest tree is 2500 miles away on the coast of Chile.


ago Christmas 9


The Twin Otter pilots had plans to remove us four days ago, but a nasty weather pattern had rolled in, stranded us in camp.

Every morning, I woke up, called in weather observations and hoped to be pulled out.

With no success.

This morning was no different.

By mid morning, we were aware of our holiday fate.

We were spending Christmas at good ol’ AGO 1.


ago Christmas 10


So, here we sit in the absolute middle of nowhere.

The closest humans were 500 miles away, rockin’ in the holidays at the South Pole.

We were actually the only three human beings in an area about the same same size as the entire western United States…or larger.

These camps are “near-ish” to a point called “The Point of Inaccessibility”.

It is the place on any continent that is furthest from a coast.

In Antarctica, that’s saying a lot!

It’s essentially the most remote place on earth.

And we were gonna “celebrate” Christmas in all its splendid, frozen remoteness.


ago Christmas 11


Trying to breathe a bit of normalcy into my holiday, I stole away and made some calls on the Iridium Satellite phone.


ago Christmas 12


Some of you reading this, were the recipients.

I appreciate the loving conversations which for a moment placed me back home.

My tent was a lot more cozy while chatting with all of you.


ago Christmas 12


Later, I went for a meandering walk to photograph the alien, ultra white landscape.


ago Christmas 14


Now, it would have been nice to enjoy dinner back home, in a nice warm house.

But, I was fully aware, that this was an epic, once in a lifetime experience.

To spend Christmas in such a odd situation, is something I couldn’t have even dreamt up.  .


ago Christmas 13


An odd phenomenon called a Sun Dog occurred while I was out wandering around.

It creates a massive ring around the sun.

I figured that was my Christmas present.


ago Christmas 14


Obviously unprepared, we didn’t have much of a Christmas vibe to the shelter.

We signed the wall,  making sure to point out that we were the Christmas shut in crew.


ago christmas 15


The evening was spent eating the best frozen burritos that the government can buy.

More importantly, a Christmas isn’t complete without gathering around a movie while letting your dinner settle.

This time Bob, Andy and I huddled around my laptop and watched Marty McFly save the day in Back To The Future.


ago Christmas 16


I will never forget that Christmas.


But, Wow it is wonderful to be back in the U. S. for this round.

Ironically, the weather in the Northern U.S.  this winter isn’t much more hospitable than the Antarctic Plateau.

But, it does have Christmas trees, yummy cookies, my lovely wife and egg nog.

Oh, the Egg Nog!

I hope this finds all of you happy, healthy and surrounded by those you love or maybe a dedicated puppy dog.

ago christmas 17

Happy Holidays Folks!

It’s great to be home for this one!


(Comment Subject)

“What was the wildest, most bizarre, most remote, most unique Christmas you ever spent”!

Tell me about me it in the comments!


ago christmas 18

2013 What’s in Marc’s Backpack…? 10 Christmas Gift Ideas!

Hi everyone!

It’s that time of year…

The time when you ask yourself, “what should I get the Glacier Explorer in my life”?

And then you think, “did that guy actually use that cheesy sentence”?

He did!


Gear 1

Unflattering maybe, but this pic shows the gear I bring with…

Now, while I don’t feel that the holidays are all about buying presents, I’m sure it’s on the agenda.

I’m also sure some of you have a hiker in your life, and need some good present ideas.

I”ll try and help.

I’ve had a few people ask me to write a “what goes in my backpack” post.

So, I’ll combine them into

the “2013 What’s in Marc’s Backpack – Christmas Gift Ideas” page and extravaganza!


My gear list teeters between high end swanky and opportunist dirt bag.

Like most people, I have to get the most out of my gear and find deals when I can.


While every gear geek loves the feeling of strapping on a new backpack or lounging in their crisp, recently purchased sleeping bag, there’s no need to have every brand new piece.

Lots of my gear is kind of old, but it gets me by.


Gear 8

The yard sale that is my pack


My sleeping bag is from 2001 and honestly should be replaced.

I would love to get a new, compressible,  down bag that wouldn’t weigh down my pack.

But, like most people, for me dollars are dollars, and the bag still keeps me warm.


I have a few pair of old convertible hiking pants that I mend over and over again.

The versatility they provide is necessary if you are going to have huge days with varied weather and plans to thrash around in heavy vegetation.

It doesn’t matter what brand, as long as they are comfortable and not cotton.


gear 1


Moderately priced sunglasses with UV protection and stationary lenses is my route.

Sunglasses still need to be expendable, because they get lost, crushed and scratched.

Half the time, I wear them as safety glasses so I don’t take a branch to the eye, while in the depths of the brush.


Gear 17


Don’t get me wrong, there are specialty pieces of gear that are of epic importance.

Pieces that my project hinged on.

Pieces that I feel naked hiking without. (Figuratively)




REI PRICE: $20.00

If you have not yet been introduced to a Buff, then here you go.

It is the perfect stocking stuffer.

Every outdoor enthusiast loves the concept of a bandana.

The problem is that they are made of cotton and don’t dry.

In general, cotton is worthless when it matters.

Enter… a Buff.


Numai Lake Post (9 of 53)

It’s a tube of stretchy synthetic material that has more uses than I can write.

It’s possible to use it as a neck gaiter, a face cover, a hair keeper downer, a scrunchy and most importantly, a sweet pirate costume.


Gear 14


I even use mine in combo with a wind proof ear band and it becomes a bombproof “hat” that cuts out wind but doesn’t make you sweat like crazy.

This thing does basically everything.

And it comes in countless designs and colors.

Merry Christmas!


This video shows countless ways to wear your buff!


Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiters:

REI PRICE: $75.00

Gaiters have become the most indispensable piece of gear that myself or anyone that goes with me carries.

I even keep spare older pairs to lend to those without.

The ground vegetation is so thick in Glacier, that I wouldn’t have legs if it wasn’t for these gems.

For me, they function as shin protectors when I’m off trail.

But, they keep out snow, rain, rocks, and the dew that collects on morning vegetation.


Gear 10


When its not TOO COLD, but its raining, you can use them in combo with non-cotton shorts.

You won’t sweat like if you had rain pants on.

The combo will keep you dry where it matters and warm enough.

Just keep hiking and you’re gold.

And when you stop hiking, the bottom of your convertible pants are still dry and waiting to be zipped on for warmth.


Gear 16


The best reason, is still, that they make you look like a mountaineering Bad Ass.



Black Diamond Elliptic Trekking Poles:

REI PRICE:   Normally $129.95  On Sale Now $94.93

I am a dyed in the wool trekking pole user.

My roommate lent me a pair years ago and I’ve been a convert ever since.

They’ll save your knees and make you much more secure during varied terrain, off trail travel.

All the while making hiking a full body exercise!

Four legs good – Two legs bad!


Gear 2

Trekking poles have always had one Achilles Heel in my opinion.

Even the best brands have always used a spinning lock system which wears out at exactly the wrong moment.

This might not matter to folks on casual hikes in which they never adjust the pole length.

But, at that point you could use some old $20 ski poles.


gear 3


If you care that your poles collapse, adjust up and down, and in the end still re-tighten when it matters, then…

The only direction to go is Black Diamonds clip locking design.

They make multiple models and my wife has thinner, lighter ones that she loves.

But, I’m a big guy who depends on them to take a beating and ALWAYS work!

My go to model are the Black Diamond Elliptic Poles.

The shaft is an oval which supports much more stress and weight.

I’ve put these things through their paces,… and they have performed flawlessly.



Osprey Kestrel 48 Backpack

REI PRICE: $169.00


I need my backpack to be a day pack and an overnight pack all wrapped up in one.

Countless lakes on my list are accessed only by hiking a very full day and then setting up a base camp for a few nights.

My pack has to be large enough to carry my tent, sleeping bag, pad, clothes, food, stove, water filter, camera, tripod….and then there is ALL THE SWIMMING GEAR!

Ok, that is just a pair of shorts and sandals…

But, you get the point.


Numai Lake Post (47 of 53)


The pack also has to be agile and streamlined enough, so it’s not be a burden off trail.

The huge layover day is all off trail, and the bushwhack to the remote lake would be brutal with a large pack.

The Kestrel 48 works great for me because it’s durable and has lots of separations for organization.

The attachment points on the outside help me haul gear in inventive ways.

The stretchy back panel is more durable than it looks, I’ve tried it out.

It’s big enough to haul, but it is small enough to be drug up a steep cliffy hillside choked with alder.



Asolo 510 Goretex Hiking Boots

REI PRICE: $289.00

What can I say, they are durable, waterproof and came out of the box broke in.

What more can you ask for in a hiking boot.


Gear 5



Petzl Tikka Plus 2 Headlamp

REI PRICE: $39.95

Always, always, always carry your headlamp, and be sure the thing has good batteries in it.


It will save your life and get you out of the woods some day!




My Petzl has three options, a bright, a dim and a red light.

The dim light saves battery life and more importantly doesn’t blind your friends while chatting in camp.

The red light doesn’t kill your night vision.

Sometimes you still need to grab something out of your pack while watching shooting stars.


Gear 6


And, most importantly.

There is a flashing light mode which comes in handy when attending a campfire rave party.

Petzl you have always done me well.



Patagonia Capilene T-Shirts and Thermals

PATAGONIA PRICES:  Depends on what you are looking for.  $30.00 to $80.00

Good things are expensive, but not all expensive things are good.

And most expensive things, aren’t good for the environment…as a generalization.

Patagonia puts out some the outdoor industries best products.

They also proactively try to be a role model for sustainable business practices and help fund environmental causes all over the world.

And it’s not marketing lip service, they are in the trenches.



Their Capilene undergarments are the answer to a chilly day and are basically a standard among my peers.

They come in four different weights depending on how warm you want them to be.

They also take old soda bottles, unusable second quality fabrics and worn out garments, turn them into polyester fibers and create some of the best outdoor clothing on earth.

Thanks for the effort Patagonia!



Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket


Pullover $169.00 ; Hooded $249.00

And then there was the lightest, warmest, squishiest piece of clothing I’ve ever put on.

It is the Nano Puff, but in my friend circles its a Puff Ball.

Because that is what it feels like.

A ball of puff!


Highly compressible PrimaLoft insulation is packed into a wind proof and water resistant, 100% recycled, rip stop polyester shell.

It’s like you are wearing a sleeping bag as a shirt.


Gear 18


Puffs break down much lighter and smaller than any fleece I’ve ever carried.

When slipped on, all is well with the world.

Even as long days get later, it breaks the chill of those high altitude, late day winds.

I’ve actually taken to carrying a lighter sleeping bag and wearing the puff jacket to sleep at night.

It’s wonderful!




Katadyn Hiker Water Filter:

REI PRICE: $69.95

So, I know a water filter isn’t as sexy of a Christmas present as slippers or an X Box.

But, if you have the right gear geek partner, I’m sure it would blow their socks off.


gear 20

This is not my photo, but this guy looks like a success story.

The ability to clean drinking water on the go is an absolute necessity.

These days there are lighter weight options, but for me a good manual filter is the way to go.

And the Katadyn Hiker is the best filter I’ve ever used.

It’s durable and churns out water way faster than any filter I’ve had in the past.

Hydrate, Folks!!!



Butt Pad:

Ah, my finest invention.

It gives you a warm spot to sit when it cold, a dry spot to sit when its wet and a comfortable spot to sit when its lumpy.

It gives you a great place to stand while changing clothes on the fly so you don’t get you socks wet.

At the moment in which you want to separate your butt from its surroundings.

It is there. Its also durable and basically free.

Just find a pad of closed cell foam and cut off a piece a foot or so wide.

The Glacier Explorer in your life will love it, or their butt will at least.


Gear 9


If you have gotten all the way to the end of this post…

I want to wish you Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year.

To Life,

Marc Ankenbauer

Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival 2013 – Dirtbag Style

Now, sit right down there and let me tell you about the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival.

The festival is “The Event” for mountain culture authors, film makers and the adventurers that create the stories.

It’s the venue that artists, athletes  and researchers dream of having a book or film in.

And, it happens each fall in Banff, Alberta.


If a meeting of the mountain elite wasn’t enough, the location is world class!

Banff the town is inside of Banff the National Park, and both are known for some of earths most jaw dropping mountain scenery.

So, it’s a class situation, all the way around. 🙂


Banff 1


But, November in the Rockies isn’t the nicest weather month.

It is perfect movie weather, if you get my drift.

This year it dumped 6 inches over the festival weekend,…in early November.

And, I know I read something about a low of 8 degrees at night.

This presents little dilemma to anyone, but me.

I sleep in my car.

Mom,…Not always, just during this event.


banff 9

Hotel de la Missoula


The hotels are WAY out of my price range, so I rely on my mobile hotel room

A mobile hotel room that is covered in snow and filled with three sleeping bags and cooler of food.

It’s nice to have my home just down the road from the festival.

It certainly makes having lunch easier.

So, welcome to the Banff Film festival.

I go dirtbag style.

But, I go.

And it’s awesome!




I volunteer to be specific.

Its fun to be a part of the festival, even in such a basic way.

I also figured it couldn’t hurt to talk with people that sell books, if you are looking to make one.

Ya Dig?


Banff 10

Right down the street from my house.


Friday and Saturday nights, I ushered at the main theater.

Norwegian Aleksander Gomme and Jonesy  of the Austrailian duo Cas and Joney spoke on Friday.

Cecilie Skog, a Norwegian mountaineer and polar skier spoke on Saturday.

Both evenings were human firsts.

Both large scale, unsupported crossings of Antarctica.


Alright, now don’t fret, the festival is coming to city near you soon.

And you don’t even have to sleep in a car!

Sweet deal!

Banff picks many of the years best films and sends them out into the world on a 13 month traveling film festival.

It is shown on all seven continents, in countless countries and in almost all U.S. States.

Would you believe I watched it in McMurdo Station in Antarctica, last year?

I was obviously jacked!


So, check the calendar for a showing near you..


NOTE: It’s coming to Montana first.  

This coming weekend!  

November 10th in Missoula, November 12th in Kalispell.  

Click here to check your state or country.  


I always leave the film festival inspired.

So many stories of human beings, just blowing open the perimeters of possibility.

The options are limitless and the festival tells the taleas.



Here’s a couple highlight presenters and movies from the festival.


GommeJonesy – First time on stage together! Friday Nov 1st, 2013

The festival brings at least one thing to your attention.

That there are way more people than you think, throwing down epic global odysseys every year.

Blasting open the boundaries of human possibility and world exploration.


How about going from the Antarctic coast to the South Pole and return but completely unaided?

Skiing 1400 miles across the worlds highest, coldest, driest and windiest continent.

89 days hauling a 350lb sled across an otherworldly, frozen expanse.

Alexander Gomme did it solo.

It is also a very historic, human first.


This video shows how excited a man can get when he gets to a cache of food and finds Cheesy Poofs. 



But there’s a catch.

At the same time, there was randomly an Australian duo that go by Cas and Jonesy that were trying for the same record.


A Norweigain against two guys from the British Commenwealth.

A bit Amundson/Scott, now isn’t it?

The three had become friends over the length of the trip.

Gommes had led the whole time, and it was his to win at this point.

Then, like the cool guy he is, Gomme stops and waits for them so they can finish together.

That my friends…

That is a classy move.


Last Ice Merchant

This film is about a 67 year old Ecuadorian man who is the last of a long, proud profession.

For generations, men would climb up to the glacial ice high up on Mt. Chimborazo.

They would pry off huge chunks, wrap them in grass and carry them down to the town on mules.

This ancient profession is dying out since the area got electricity and an ice machine.

That doesn’t stop him from going up for his daily haul, but the profession is dead.

Oh, how things change in a generation.

Side Note:

Chimborazo is a behemoth volcano on the equator which is famous for being the mountain that is closest to the sun or furthest from the center of the earth.

Some think of it as the largest mountain on earth and not Everest.




If the snowfall didn’t get the attendees excited for ski season, the newest production from Sweetgrass Films sewed the winter vibe.

Valhalla is the best ski movie I’ve ever seen.



I recognize that is a big statement.

But, most good “ski porn” is just that; amazing footage of professional athletes.

OK, AWESOME FOOTAGE, of VERY TALENTED professional skiers and boarders, but…

They often lack a plot or much emotional connection other than getting you excited to ski.

Valhalla tells the fictional story of a man headed north to find something.

He’s seeking that freedom and pure, impressionable awe of his childhood.

Along the way, he finds a Valhalla.

Plus it has the first real naked ski scene I’ve ever seen…and it’s Classy.

But naked…




This is my favorite film of the festival and it’s only a few minutes long.

It captures the ideology of capturing the moments of your life

Carpe Diem at its greatest.


35 hard rock climbs in honor of professional climber Derek Craig’s 35th birthday.

This movie packs more wisdom than it’s 5 minutes can hold.

Plus I’m a huge fan of Fitz Cahall and his Dirt Bag Diary’s Podcast.

35 is the first short film I’ve seen from his new production company “Duct Tape Then Beer”.  



One last note.

I mentioned on Facebook that I was hoping to meet and hike with Conrad Anker…

And it happened!

On a terrible morning.

I woke in a frosted up car that was covered in three inches of new snow/rain/slush/stuff.


banff 4

6:50am…going for a hike, huh?


Conrad was meeting people and stating a hike to the top of Tunnel Mountain, at 7:30am, outside the festival building.

It would have been so much easier to just role over and go back to bed in a warm sleeping bag, and surrounded by a very cold, wet world.

But, I forced my eyes open and met the group.

It was nice to meet him.

W chatted about Montana.

He lives in Bozeman when he is not out scaling the highest, scariest, most remote mountains on earth.  .

He is a nice, approachable guy for a mountaineering god.

Way to be Conrad and thanks for the hike.


 banff 6

Conrad Anker and I on Tunnel Mountain. Which has a trail to the top, just to be clear.

Thanks, Banff Film Festival for another spectacular experience.

And thanks to Steve and Rachael for letting me crash at their place on the second night.

Great french toast.

Does anyone have any good experiences going to the Banff Film Festival shows in their areas?

Leave it in the comments.




And Happy November!

To Life,

Marc Ankenbauer

The Great Seasonal Employee Migration

It’s late spring and all across America a herd is starting to move.

I’m talking about one of the hemispheres greatest mass migrations, and many of you are a part of it.

It is time for summer seasonal employees to migrate to exciting new corners of the world for a countless variety of employment.




Seasonal 17


To test their metal against a unique environment filled with new faces and experiences.



Seasonal 12

Many of you have experienced the elation and trepidation of this process.

The weeks leading up to your departure date there starts to be going away parties.

Friends and family want to do lunch or have you over for one last dinner before you embark on your journey.

Everyone asks you about this new place you’re headed off to.

This completely alien land compared to the city or town you live in.


Seasonal 23



Plans get hatched for them to come visit you, but don’t get your hopes up too much.

Maybe 10% are able to pull it off.

They still love you anyway.


Lists are being created on pads of paper to help organized your thoughts.

Lists of “things to buy”, “things to do”, “things to find”…


Seasonal 16


Your car becomes so packed that you must roll the rear windows down so you can slide last minute items into your large metal suitcase.


Seasonal 15


What items will you need to access during the road trip?

It doesn’t matter because everything will become an intertwined ball of sweatshirts, hiking boots, bedding, food and the other 50 things you think will make your stay a bit homier.

By the time you get there these things will be lucky to not be hanging out the back hatch or sitting in your lap.

Where are you going?

How long will the trip take?

Whose couch are you going to sleep on at the halfway point?

Is your roommate going to be cool?

Did you see everyone before you left?

Oil change, new wiper blades, how about an atlas… Check, Check, Check!

Painful as it may be to pull out of your parent’s driveway for paths unknown it will be OK… Actually it will be Great!


Seasonal 11



A couple hours out you will get gas in a town you didn’t even know existed.

A little elbow grease will get that windshield clear of dead bugs so you’re ready to take in the sights and sounds of another place and time.




Maybe you will camp at a state park in South Dakota, or have a memorable night in a cheap motel in Salina, Kansas.

Or you  may go with my personal favorite…

You could sleep in a rest stop, sitting upright still in front of the steering wheel.

Your Maglite and bear spray in the seat next to you to calm your late night fears.

You know it’s not a great idea, but the money for that blasted motel could get you 500 miles tomorrow.


Seasonal 20


Where ever you sleep, when you wake up and walk outside it will smell different.


Seasonal 18


You may stop at a gas station for coffee and a cheap pastry which pays for the use of their bathroom sink to wash your face and ready yourself for the day’s quest.

Then you climb back in and continue to tick off miles as you fly through time and space in a tin can, destiny unknown.


Seasonal 19


Where ever you are going, whatever you are doing…it’s gonna be AWESOME!


Seasonal 10


Be open to the new experiences your life changing summer odyssey provides.

Stay up too late watching the stars.


Seasonal 2


Get up early enough to see the lake calm as glass.


Seasonal 3


Go to the bonfire even if you’re tired!

Because a few months from now it will all be over and you’ll be wondering where it all went.

Eat it with a big spoon people!


Seasonal 4


As for you folks who are not participating in the summer seasonal migration, please think about coming to visit if possible.

One of the greatest aspects to seasonal work is having our friends and family come out.

Seldom have any of us had something so pride inducing to offer our loved ones.


Seasonal 13


The fact is that they won’t live in paradise forever.

No matter how much we want to… we can’t.

It’s written in the bylaws.

But that makes it that much more special.

Knowing from the start that this is just a moment in time sweetens the flavor entirely.

It’s a great analogy for life, really.

There is never as much time as you seem to think there is…

So, Go Carpe Some Diem!


Allow them to proudly show you their cool run down cabin.

It hardly functions on countless levels, but it’s theirs!

And boy does it have a sweet yard!




They get to show you the best after-work hike then introduce you to their new favorite beer.


Seasonal 6


Go meet their group of new friends; none of which are from their state much less their home town.

Heck many of them might be from other continents entirely.

They are all part of the migration, living life as loudly and purposely as possible.

This is their moment!


Seasonal 8



May you have safe travels, a cool roommate and a cute person to kiss when you stumble upon the meteor shower.

To life!

Marc Ankenbauer


Seasonal Job Resources:


I would love to hear your tales of how seasonal work changed your life.

Give me some good stories in the comment section!

I  know you’ve got some!


Seasonal 9




We Met Our Original Goal of $5000!!! Thank You!!!




Ten years ago I decided to undertake what will prove to be the most time-consuming, physically exhausting and kinda bizarre endeavor I’ll ever participate in.

I wanted to try to be the first person to “Jump in Every Named Lake in Glacier and Waterton National Parks.”

pics for journalist (3 of 4)

There was something missing though.

Summer would arrive and my friends and I would roam some of the wildest and most remote corners of the Northern Rocky mountains.

But I wanted it to mean more.


Then I learned about a camp that gives kids affected by cancer a unique and medically supervised Montana experience.

It just seemed right.

You know?

In my opinion, life is all about experiences.

So, whats better than helping to create a few for some kids that could certainly use them?


I needed YOUR HELP though.

And Wow, did you deliver!

DCF 1.0

We just met our original goal of $5000!

A HUGE round of applause for everyone that made this happen!

We’ve not only met the original goal, but we quickly passed it!


It’s March now.

I won’t be finishing up the last 10 lakes till late summer.



I’ll keep more stories and photography coming.

Tales from the lake project, Antarctica and whatever else I think you might like.

I hope you have enjoyed what I’ve put out so far.

I certainly enjoy doing it.


And Again, I want to THANK YOU all so much for making this project a fundraising success.



The Lake Plan – How I’m going to accomplish being the first person to jump in every named lake in Waterton and Glacier National Parks

Beargrass sunrise - Glacier Explorer
Anything as elaborate as the “Waterton Glacier Lake Jumping Project” has to eventually have logic, logistics and “A Plan”.

Those of you that have spent lots of time in Glacier may be interested in those logistics.  You have looked at some of these lakes from peaks high above and pondered which way I had to go to get there.  Heck, I have relied on your recon to keep me safe and pointed in the right direction through the years.

But, so many of you have more or less no idea where I’m talking about, it’s just a wild, pretty place.  I can imagine it’s tough to really gather how much logistics and how many minute details go into something like this.  Unless you have spent an exceptional amount of time in Glacier National Park, it’s nearly impossible to understand that this is not just a passing, chaotic aquatic weekend endeavor.

So, I figured I would take this week to explain some of my logic.  My plan if you will.

As I write this, I have 12 lakes left out of 168.  132 are in Glacier and 38 are in Waterton National Park, Canada.  Two of them are in both countries, so added together; the number is 168 instead of 170.

Through the earlier portions of the project, I would simply go anywhere that was still on the list.  Since the list at that time was seemingly insurmountable, it was easy to simply go wherever my friends were going.  They all had to be checked off and it was an open slate.

As the years have passed I have sat up late nights, alone and with friends just planning.  Asking some of Glaciers most well experienced explorers their opinions, pouring over maps, photos and climbers guides over beers around a fire.    Planning routes, planning logistics, planning who would be good candidates to accompany me.

Some lakes, you just needed a willing participant.  Others I needed a more skilled climber (which doesn’t take much) to help me through the scary parts.  Sometimes I just needed an open afternoon and the willingness to drive there.


brian, pat, marc pic - - Glacier Explorer

NOTE:  I have always tried to make it known, but again…Thank you to everyone who has helped me get this far.  This project would have never, ever, ever happened without my friends who kept me safe and sane.

Some trips were five lakes in a day, and others were one lake in four very dirty, tiring, crazy days.

There is an immense amount of planning.

The twelve I have left are as follows.

Gem, Bench, Miche Waben, Camas, Evangeline, Ruger, Grace, Lilly, Running Crane, Medicine Owl, Carthew Pond and Fisher Cap.

Twelve arbitrary and very different places in a multinational , million acre+ expanse of mountains, stream crossings, alder bushes, cliffs, devils club, waterfalls, marshes, glacier basins, downed trees and thimble berries, gravel roads, river fords, PBJ’s, blisters, odd suntans and LAKES.  Can’t forget them.

I will not be able to finish this year.  I had high hopes, but life is what it is.  I have other things going on other than jumping in lakes and so do my friends.  So, between weather, weekends, snow melt and accompaniment and LIFE…It’s just not going to happen this year.

So, as of right now, here is the plan as well as it can be explained.

I do not want to finish at the absolute end of the season next year.

GEM and BENCH are two lakes that have to be done this year because they have to be done late season.


gem - Glacier Explorer

It is a tiny pond at the top of Comeau Pass which is in the middle of an expansive off trail route called Floral Park.  The route goes from Logan Pass to Lake McDonald through a high elevation shelf that drains Sperry Glacier.  The route simply does not melt out till late in the season and that is not going to get rid of all snow, just the sketchiest parts.  People have died on this route, mostly based on not understanding the enormity of the challenge in front of them, bad weather and sparse route finding skills.  This must be done late season and with that, I plan on completing it this year.  I did this route five years ago and was not aware that this was a named lake.  It’s just a pond on top of a pass.  Who would have guessed.  I am looking forward to it though, it’s an amazing place. I want to make sure it is known that this is not an advertisement for Floral Park.  It is a huge endeavor that many have taken lightly and been sorely mistaken.  If you do ever try it, Please do your homework, go with a group and know how to use a map.  PLEASE!!  (1 Enormous Day hike, at least 12 hours)


bench - Glacier Explorer

Everything is approachable from more than one way, but there is always the “best way”.  This lake should be accessed by going to Canada and boating back into the US into a roadless area called Goat Haunt.  This is already the middle of nowhere to most people, but from there you must hike about seven miles of trail, then leave trail and cross the Waterton River which would be very big early season.  Goat Haunt is known for its wet, dark forest that has in my humble opinion the heaviest ground cover in the whole park.  You will find yourself climbing thousands of feet up the side of 45 degree angle slopes of 12 foot high alder filled with devils club and every other nasty plant we have.  It is plunked right in the middle of the molar tooth that is Kootenai Peak.  For this and every other reason, I just want this to be dry and clean as possible.  This too must be done this summer. (Two night’s backcountry, one huge day in the middle to get the lake)

*From there it would be nice to get a couple more done just to help make next year not as hectic.


camas - Glacier Explorer

North of Lake McDonald is the Camas Creek drainage and some of the heaviest Griz country in the park.  There are seven fords of Camas creek that you have to do to get to Camas Creek Campground much less beyond it to the upper two lakes.  It needs to be late enough to have some of those steams dry.  If this doesn’t happen this year, then it will have to be later next year.  Note that July is buggy and this being super wet would make it probably pretty rough.  So, it would be an August thing.  August vegetation is at its peak and this area will be thick.  (Two nights at Camas CG and one off trail day to get the upper lakes)


miche - Glacier Explorer

There once was a trail to the lake but that is long gone and overgrown.  In the furthest reaches of the northeast corner of the park is the Belly River.  Miche Waben Lake is the headwaters of virtually never visited North Fork of the Belly River.  It is a pretty low lying forested valley, but very, very tight.  So, again having this dried out would be important.  There is a waterfall that you have to climb around and I would not want that to be too full.  Plus again, July is skeeter season.  You have to ford the Belly River so you couldn’t do it too early anyway.  Three miles in on the Belly River trail is a faint old trail that is cleared periodically.  It would lead you to the North Fork and from there is a full on schwack for a few miles to the lake.  I know a few people to have been there, but not many.  Good Times.   (Two night’s camp, one day big lake push)

*I would be super happy to get either of these last two done this year, but it’s tough.  Weather has to hold and need someone to go with me.  I don’t do this stuff alone and people do have lives.  If not, then August of next year.


grace - Glacier Explorer

Fourteen mile flat as a board backpacking trip in a remote portion of the northwest corner of the park.  The road to the trailhead is often washed out early season.  It is low elevation, so it would be a great early season or late season trip.  Once you are up there, I have always heard its an amazingly wild, beautiful area.  I want to spend a day exploring the area or I would have pondered a great big 28 mile day hike.  Three day weekends are tough to come by and it is imperative to dedicate them to the off trail hikes that you need a base camp for.  So, that is why I view it as super early or super late season.  When the snow is still in the high country or the snow has started to fly again, this would be a perfect trip.  This is the last on-trail trip I have left in the states.  (Three days, two nights)


lilly - Glacier Explorer

I didn’t even know this was a named lake for a long time.  It is not named on the map and you would never even think of it as being a destination.  But, in years gone by there used to be about 300 miles of trails that have been let to grow over in the last few decades.  This lake used to be accessed by one of those trails.  North of Dutch Creek and south of Logging Creek is Adair Ridge.  Tucked into the forested folds of that ridge is a bean shaped lake that I am not looking forward to going to.  It is going to have to be late enough that the snow is gone.  Then the water is running and with all the little folds of forested ridges it will probably be pretty rough going.  I will need a GPS coordinate to even find it because it’s not obvious like the lakes tucked at the base of a mountainous cirque.  The tough thing about this kind of lake is that July will be wicked buggy and by August I would imagine it’s pretty nasty.  The water will have started to evaporate enough that it’s more of a mucky impoundment of water.  I would love to be wrong, but I don’t think I am.  So, I’m hoping to hit this next year around early June.  (Either one huge day or base camp at Logging Lake Ft Campground and spend a day getting to the lake and back to camp)


med owl - Glacier Explorer

This thing is tucked in the upper portions of the Red Eagle Valley surrounded by mountains.  My best guess is a saddle in the upper valley that you can climb up and over.   It melts out early enough that I’m hoping to hit this in July but I could be wrong and you never know what the winter snow pack is going to be like.  The valley it is in burnt in 2003, but the ground vegetation has rebounded with a passion.  So, I think that saddle is my best bet.  (Three nights with one day in the middle for the lake)


running crane - Glacier Explorer

This thing is tucked in the most remote, inaccessible little pocket on the eastern front.  Between Two Medicine and Cutback is the Lake Creek drainage that flows out into the plains.  The far upper reaches of this valley is Lonely Lakes and Running Crane.  I once saw Running Crane when I did Lonely Lakes, but we did not have enough daylight to get to them.  I am planning to climb Mad Wolf Mountain and walk the ridge toward Eagle Plume Peak, then drop off that ridge.  From there maybe return the same way or try and push out to Two Medicine through a variety of random options.  Either way, I need lots of day light.  Early season you have too much snow, but its light till 10pm.  Late season its clear and melted out but you have started to lose hours of daylight.  So, I think this is a late July or early August thing as long as there is not huge amounts of snow still.  Should be an exciting one.  (One very huge day hike)


carthew - Glacier Explorer

I’m guessing this is an impoundment of water below the lower Carthew Lake in Waterton National Park.  Along the popular Carthew-Alderson day hike in Waterton National Park there are two Carthew Lakes…I must have missed this thing.  When I did this hike, I had not gotten the list of lakes from Canada yet and just did the obvious ones on the map.  I am saving this for any one of a select group of friends who love a good day hike but won’t be able to make it on one of these other more extensive trips.  It is the last lake I have in Waterton National Park.


fishercap - Glacier Explorer

This is an idyllic little shallow pond just five minutes up trail from the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn Parking Lot in Many Glacier Valley.  Its border line silly, but this is going to be my last lake.  I am glad that I had the foresight to save an easy one.  I would have probably saved St. Mary or something a bit more logical, but Fishercap is beautiful and easily accessible.  That was what I had left to pick from when it dawned on me that I want my loved ones to be with me when I finish this.  I did not want to be in the absolute middle of nowhere, with one person when this finished itself up.  So, as funny as it seems.  Sometime in mid-August of next year, if all good things come together…I will plop into Fishercap Lake.  I’ll be surrounded by majesty, my loved ones and possibly a moose, five minutes from a parking lot.

That’s the story.  Thanks for listening.  Hope this stuff makes a bit more sense now.

I try to respond to all comments, so feel free to share what’s on your mind about my project. And please use the share buttons. Tell a friend!

All the Best!
To Life,

p824001 - Glacier Explorer

Aurice Lake Grizzlies – The Passing of a Legend

Photo by Chris Lombardi

Aurice Lake and Two Medicine Pass will be etched in my brain for the rest of my days.

Where were you when the last tragedy of your life struck?  At home, at work, stuck in traffic?

Poetically when my Uncle Marty and outdoor mentor passed away, I was high atop Two Medicine Pass.

I’ve been wondered lately…Where exactly I was at the moment he died.

Photo by Chris Lombardi

Was I sleeping in my tent at Cobalt Lake?

Photo by Chris Lombardi

Was I trudging up the pass with my heart pounding in my chest?

Photo by Chelsea McCann

Was I sitting on the continental divide looking off at a sea of peaks?

Photo by Chris Lombardi

Or, was it the exact moment when we surprised a grizzly bear sow and cub above Aurice Lake?
Personally, I like that one.

Behind Mt. Rockwell is a sidestep route to Aurice Lake.

It was a perfect day if not a tad hot.

Pat, Chelsea, Jess, Chris and I ambled along high above the Park Creek valley.

We pushed along the route of wild flowers, bear grass and burnt trees; waiting to boot ski down a scree slope to the lake edge.

Photo by Chelsea McCann

As we rounded the bend, it sounded like someone slipped down the steep slope of vegetation.

Instead, it was the two bears churning soil and huffing as they tore up the hillside towards the vertical rock walls.

Photo by Chelsea McCann

We could see the Aurice Lake below, but couldn’t see where the mother grizzly had secured her cub.

We knew there wasn’t more than 200 feet of vegetation above us before it became sheer cliffs.

So, they couldn’t be any more than that short distance from us.

Photo by Chelsea McCann

Never a comforting feeling and certainly not a situation you need to continue pursuing.

She deserved her peace.

This is one thing I’ve learned through the years.

Just because we feel it logical to traipse around in the complete middle of nowhere doesn’t mean the wildlife should have to suffer.

Photo by Chris Lombardi

Sometimes you let a good mother alone.

She did exactly what she was supposed to do.

At that point, what makes it ok to continue pushing her even further from her comfort zone.

She had found a perfect little niche far away from the main human traffic.

She’s teaching her cub to eat natural foods instead of going the easy route of human garbage and opportunism.

She deserves that peace that she sought.

Photo by Chris Lombardi

This is the moment that I hope signifies when my uncle left this world.

He began all of my travels, my love affair with far away, wild places.

He taught me to camp in bear country.

How to appreciate being a moment in time in a place in which humans are only a temporary visitor.

He taught me that I’m a part of this world, not the only or most important thing in it.

That when you are extended the opportunity to exist in such amazing places, you are then responsible for taking care of them.

Humility in the face of something well larger than us.

Photo by Chelsea McCann

He may have never known that this is what he taught me.

He knew that he was the spark that sent me exploring the amazing pockets of the world that we have left.

I told him that, often.

He was the person that introduced me to the greatest exercise program in the world.


He knew that he had totally transformed a heavyset city boy who was struggling with direction and identity.

He knew, but it’s always nice to tell someone again.

What they mean to you.

What they taught you.

What you do that makes you think of them.

Photo by Chris Lombardi

So, Uncle Marty.  You changed my life and helped me live so much bigger than I ever thought possible.

By just being you.

You were a genuine man, an adventurous traveler and an absolute character.

I never made it to Aurice Lake that day, but I will be back…

Today was for the bears and something bigger than me.
To Life