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...

Observation Hill : McMurdo’s Local Mountain

Observation Hill is a small mountain or a large hill on the outskirts of McMurdo Station…

It is the Antarctica version of the little, after work, local mountain.

On top of the summit there is a large cross that was placed there in honor of Robert Falcon Scott.

He was the famous British explorer that was the second to ever reach the South Pole, but passed away on the return trip.

There are hiking trails that go around “Ob Hill” and to the summit cross.



The trail around Observation Hill starts near the helicopter landing pad.

We even saw a helicopter flying in from the field right as we started our trip.



As the trail gained elevation the entire edge of McMurdo Station became visible with the huge people carrier headed out to the sea ice airstrip.



We were surprised by a C17 which was coming in from Christchurch, New Zealand.

We sat on rocky hillside and watched it land on the sea ice landing strip.



There is another airstrip called Pegasus which is further out on the Ice shelf.

It gets used later in the season when the sea ice melts too much to be solid.



The trail continues along the edge of the Ross Sea through black volcanic rock.

Absolutely nothing but rock and snow…Nothing.



At the base of the mountain there were three Weddell Seals lounging near the cracks in the sea ice.



We rounded a bend in the trail and my fellow hikers were silhouetted against the expanse of the never ending Ross Ice Shelf.



The New Zealand’s Scott Research Base was visible out on the point with Mt. Terror in the background.



The trail got pretty steep at points with snow jammed in the winding trail.



I was overwhelmed by the opportunity to be out hiking in this surreal place.

I needed to be sure to pose for a photo with the ever present Mt. Discovery.



The Observation Hill summit trail leads directly out of McMurdo Station and is well steeper.



I kept waiting to do the climb because it had been wicked cold and windy.

Cold is one thing but the wind makes it ridiculous up there pretty quickly.

I had to finally just choose to go.

All in all it was alright and the wind was still blowing snow across the ground.



The surrounding landscape grows and grows as the trail rises upward.

Far in the distance is White Island which is bound on all sides by the Ross Ice Sheet.



When I was almost to the summit the last group was starting the descent.



I was left to a peaceful 10 minute window to take in the 360 degree panorama.

I set up a tripod and got a shot of myself on the summit.

The double volcanoes were looming in the background and the road to Scott base was visible far below



Anytime a trail gains even a little elevation around town Mt. Erebus pops above the skyline.



Mt. Terror and its profound amount of ice was a great backdrop for the wind turbines that help power the US and Kiwi stations.



Right before I left to come down here, National Geographic wrote an article about Mt. Erebus.

It is the southernmost active volcano on earth.

Its almost always steaming because there is an actual lake of molten lava at the bottom.  For Real!!

If that’s not cool enough, the steam coming out of the steam vents freezes when it hits air and creates crazy Dr Seuss like vent tube creature looking things.

Wait, wait…And there is cool crystals that form out of volcanic minerals which makes them bizarro hard.

Ah, Mt. Erebus…



I bid the summit farewell and started heading back towards town to make sure I hit up dinner.



This might be the craziest thing I’ve ever looked at from a 25 minute hike.

I guess you’ll have that on the regional tour.  Huh, Spicer?

I suppose we are in Antarctica…

Thanks OB Hill.



I hope this finds each and everyone of you having a simply splendid day.

To Life


Pocket Lake…and thanks to National Geographic

Pocket Lake. Well, well, well…It’s August, 2010 and somehow this is my first blog entry. Instead of recounting my reasons for being so busy, I will recount the lake that jarred loose the keyboard.

Pocket Lake.

Oh, but before I do that, I want to thank the people at National Geographic. In three days (August 30, 2010), there will be a documentary called Glacier National Park – Wild Spaces that will make its debut on the National Geographic Channel.

Any of you who love the park, have interest in the wild corners of the world, or just want to see me with a farmers tan jumping in cold water should tune in.

It is about the park in general, but for me it marks the first national exposure of the Waterton Glacier Lake Jumping Project. I’m obviously out of my mind excited!!!

So, where was I…?

Oh, Pocket Lake.

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Pocket Lake - Jump #132

Pocket Lake – Jump #132

  • Lake: Pocket Lake
  • Lake Jump: #132
  • Completion Date: August 20, 2010
  • Distance: 29 miles
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Off Trail Distance: 3 miles
  • Elevation Change: 4500 feet
  • Length of Trip: 2 days
  • Lake Jumpers in attendance: Jessi Adams


So, for the first time in this busiest of summers, my now wife Jess and I went on a backpacking trip. You get three days off together around here and you jump on it.

The trip started off in the tiny outpost of Goat Haunt which is accessed by going to Waterton National Park in Alberta.

We caught a tour boat back down to the southern end of the lake. From there, we struck off to the west towards an amazing area called Boulder Pass.

On the way to our first night of camping, we cooled off in Thunderbird Pond. This lake is on the list, but I got to it many years ago. Still good for a nice dip.

The first evening we camped at Brown Pass Campground which is just above Bowman Lake.

It has been a little while since we had been up in these parts so both Jess and I were super excited.
There was a bountiful crop of Montana’s famous huckleberries. Its funny. Although they keep you going, they also seriously slow you down.

But, there is no better distraction. Bears have it figured out, folks.

So, the next morning we drug our tent a few miles up hill to a site called Hole in the Wall. From here we continued up hill, the trail meandering through the rock bands to Boulder Pass.

Would you believe that in the earlier parts of the 1900’s this whole picture would have been filled with Boulder Glacier and the trail had to lead up on the moraine in the right hand side of the picture.
Lots of things have changed around these parts since then.

Its amazingly open up on top of Boulder Pass. It is so newly melted out that there is no vegitation hardly at all. Just open views!!

Just over the pass we had to go off trail to the top of a ridge.At the bottom was the long awaited Pocket Lake.

We had to drop off of this ridge and work our way through some cliff bands, steep grass and flower filled slopes to get to the lake.
I don’t have any pictures of our way through the cliff bands. That is probably because I did not like it.

Funny thing about never being somewhere before. You almost always pick the less than perfect route.
Sometimes, you end up finding yourself with your heart racing as you hold onto a tree limb and try to scoot yourself down a wet rock band covered in moss. Just sayin’….Sometimes that happens…Jess kept her cool and pulled me through. You’re the best! We made our way along a huge bench above the lake and then down broken cliff bands and grassy slopes down to the lake.

The lake was amazing. Somehow we scored three spectacular days of sunshine and calm weather. This would have been impossible if the storms moved in on us. This is one of the highest elevation lakes in the whole park.

So, I’d like to give a little shot out to the weather….
Lets give it up for the weather!!Thanks everyone.We still had to get out of this enormous “pocket” though. So since we were losing daylight we had to head out and climb back up to the pass.
Thankfully, there was a much more pleasant way back through the cliffs. Its always upon return that you figure this stuff out. We had to make our way back along the shelf to the grassy ramp in the top middle of the picture.

We knew it was “the way in” when we saw that there was a nice animal path up the ramp. Steep and slippery, but well more straight forward.

Once back up top, we bid Pocket Lake farewell and headed on. We still had miles to make.

The view from atop Boulder Pass looking back towards Goat Haunt is about as good as it gets in the park. Wow!!

And with the last hour or so of sunlight for the day, we dropped back down to camp. The light softening the colors on the peaks we were surrounded by.

To finish the story, we made a late morning of it the next day. Felt like we earned a bit of sleeping in.

Good bye Boulder Pass. Good bye, Bowman Lake. Good bye, Goat Haunt.

I would like to point out to anyone reading this blog for the first time, that I have many past adventures to read about. So, continue sifting through the blog. Check out all of the other parts of the website too.

Anyone that has searched out the Waterton Glacier Lake Jumping Projects website, Welcome!!

I’ve been trying to harness this project to raise awareness for childhood cancer and to raise money for Camp Mak A Dream. I have been working on the project for seven years now.So, thanks for popping by.

If you donate,….well your awesome.

If you check out the site and enjoy yourself enough to tell others then, you are Awesome too.

I have 34 lakes left after the six I’ve done this summer so far. I’ll keep plugging if you keep reading and following along.

Till then, I bid you farewell.

To Life,
Marc Ankenbauer

Old Man Lake – With a National Geographic Film Crew – #117

Big News !!So, in the future when you hear about some knucklehead roaming around in the middle of the mountains trying to jump in every named lake in Waterton and Glacier National Parks……..It very well may be while watching a documentary about Glacier on the National Geographic Channel.
A very nice guy I know that holds a pretty high position in Glacier was contacted by National Geographic because they were doing a documentary entitled “Wild Spaces – Glacier National Park”. It is an installment of a series about the wildest National Parks in the country.
They were hoping to find a good human interest story about the park and he passed my story on to them.

They then contacted me and we worked out the specifics.

Actually it was funny, I checked my email one day and this was the subject title.

FW: National Geographic – Man who jumps in lakes.

I stopped for a moment and thought…Wait, that’s me…..

I was absolutely floored when I read the email. As you can obviously imagine.

They wanted to make sure they were doing a lake that I had never done before and capture the whole process on film.

That is not that easy to accomplish these days, as most of the lakes that I have not been to are getting to be extremely removed and inaccessible.

Luckily, for the last few years while I was making major strides in the project there has been a lot of grizzly activity at a lake called Old Man Lake. The campground at the lake has been closed for the last couple years, so I have been essentially ignoring it.

We really lucked out. There is nothing as beautiful and simultaneously still on a trail as Old Man Lake.

So, I drove to East Glacier on Wednesday and met Brian and Chad at the Two Medicine Grill for breakfast. Brian was the producer and Chad was his assistant.
We got to know each other a bit and off we went.

Perfect day for a swim. It was warm, blue skies, and not too much wind. Just enough to keep the bugs from being real bad.

They would stop me at a section and set up their video camera. Then they would have me walk across a foot bridge and then pan out to all of the mountains as I walked into the far distance.

The hardest part was a bit when we hit flat trail and the producer wanted to ask me some questions while we walked backwards. He was walked slowly backwards and would ask me interview questions with the camera in my face.
He would like what I had to say, but I would say “um” or walk off screen in the wrong direction, or look at the camera instead of him.

He would then have me say it again.

But the problem is that I don’t know what I said. I would then start to preface what I said earlier.
I realized that restating something with the same enthusiasm and as genuinely, over and over again is very tough. I give credit to actors.
I can’t recreate and plan spontaneity. It goes against the main tenants of the word spontaneity. Odd.

We got it though. When it comes out on video, hopefully you won’t even notice a difference. I did though.

We got to the lake and shot an interview and the actual swimming portion after lunch.

Actually, I did not eat lunch till after the shoot. I felt like if there was ever a moment in time that Marc Ankenbauer did not need to have a big lunch it was right before he took his shirt off for a documentary for National Geographic.

I was all fine with all of this. I mean it was a great honor and a once in a lifetime experience.
But, come on. Any of you out there that would like to be the big, bald, kinda frumpy bald guy with a farmers tan that was filmed for an hour with no shirt getting in and out of a mountain lake in broad day light.
I imagine if everything goes right and I make the editing process; you may very well be watching the sun bounce off of my white Montana farmers tan chest for many years to come in syndication while sitting around on a lazy Sunday afternoon watching TV on the couch.


It is what it is and I am very lucky to have gotten this much exposure. (Literally and figuratively) Ha-ha..

I was able to explain that I was raising money and awareness for childrens cancer. I’ll do most anything for that kind of help.

Anyway, back to the scene. All went wonderfully!!. They really went all out. They even submerged themselves with an underwater camera and had me swim over them and swim at them. Crazy. I still can’t believe that this happened. Know?

I mean they had me in a 40 something degree lake for about an hour off and on. Getting out, getting back in. Getting back out again. Swimming back and forth and back again.

Camera’s are funny things I’ll tell you..

I was told that this will not even air on National Geographic Television until about November of next year. We have plenty of time to wait.

Anyway, that is my story. Old Man Lake was number 117 in all. I have 51 left and it is high season for busting out some more.

I hope the summer is treating everyone very well.
Get out there and enjoy it. You will have your winter coat on before you know it.

To Life,