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5th Element is a local Gold Coast Expedition Company headed up by experienced Artic Explorer, and polar crossing world record holder, Geoff Wilson. Recently, Geoff took his 17 year old son Kitale on a rite of passage expedition to Alaska to climb the icy peak, Mt Doonerak. In an adventure full of beauty, mishaps, adventure and grizzly bears, Geoff shares his expedition experience with Kit and the two emerge as expedition partners with an even stronger bond that only those who have shared adversity in the wilderness can understand.Here, is an excerpt from their story;
Our home base for all our worldwide expeditions be they polar, desert or mountain is a small farmlet in a green leafy valley called Currumbin on the east coast of Australia. It is here in our adventure office surrounded by maps and river guides that my son Kit and I dreamt up the ultimate Father and Son adventure to cap off his amazing gap year. The gap year that had so far taken him to the furthest reaches of the New Zealand Alps, remote Indonesia and now Alaska. Passionate about reminding Aussie Dad’s to take time to adventure with their kids we planned to make the short film you see here of our attempt to traverse the Brooks Range the very spine of Alaska’s wilderness to showcase the message and tell a good story.
Two full days of rigorous travel and 7 flights from home saw us at our last point of civilisation, the small town of Bettles population 12, well north of the Arctic Circle. Loading our inflatable kayaks, tent, survival gear, food, fuel, climbing gear and film equipment into the float plane I marvelled that it even took off. Once airborne we banked left and headed towards the continental divide, the very spine of Alaska and the start of our journey, our destination Summit Lake, Central Brooks Range.
As the aircraft deposited us, departed, banked and turned south towards Bettles silence settled over the magical Oolah Valley once more, reminding us of our mere insignificance out here and of the enormous challenge we’d set ourselves. The Gates of the Arctic National Park is 8.4 million acres of totally untouched and unspoilt Alaskan wilderness protected largely by its complete isolation. Its beauty is breathtaking, a myriad of snow covered peaks, meandering rivers and ice encrusted tundra. However its beauty masks a malevolent heart, it is a “black belt” wild space that can turn quickly and punish a mistake immediately. Our exit and extraction point was more than 250 km of tundra, mountain peaks, melting snow and winding river valley away. We dipped the blades of our paddles into the water and took our first stroke....
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Stay tuned for more in our upcoming feature story, "Gates of the Arctic".