Pictured: Kasha Rigby at Eagle Lodge/
Once dubbed “the best female telemark skier in the known universe” by Outside Magazine, Kasha Rigby has been on the ski scene since she could walk. On Tuesday, Jan. 15 she graced Eagle Lodge with her presence at the first installment of this year’s Adventure Slideshow Series, presented by Mammoth Mountaineering Supply.
According to www.sierrasurvey.com, “Kasha’s passion for skiing and travel has been the driving force behind most of her adult life. As a competitive racer and free skier, she made the transition to expedition and big mountain skiing when joining the North Face Team almost 15 years ago. She has since brought her skis all over the U.S., Canada, South America, New Zealand, Russia, Asia, Europe, India and even the Middle East, skiing first descents of some of the world’s most alluring peaks.”
On Tuesday, Rigby chose to focus on her love of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge where she has returned again and again not only for ski adventures, but simply to immerse herself in the wild beauty present there.
Rigby explained through storytelling and beautiful photographs how she was “seduced by the silence of it all” when she first began visiting the Refuge. She also discussed some of the challenges of navigating the landscape.
“We realized that the maps we were using were from the ‘50s and were now obsolete because of the receding glaciers,” Rigby said. “The mountains ended up being a lot further away then we expected.”
While she originally went for a ski expedition, Rigby found herself returning later in the autumn season with a friend to assist Dr. Matt Nolan in his studies of the McCall Glacier.
Rigby and her friend spent several weeks dragging a measuring device around the glacier to gather data on the depth of the glacier’s ice for Dr. Nolan. The experience was completely different from her winter journey, and made her want to go back during the spring and summer in order to experience the entire seasonal cycle in Alaska. She is working on planning these trips.
Rigby spoke extensively about the 1002 Area subsection of the Refuge. The 1002 is a contentious area due to the ongoing controversy surrounding whether or not oil drilling should be allowed along this coastal plain. American politicians have struggled back and forth over whether or not to allow the drilling in this natural habitat since it was left out of the protection of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980.
One of the major controversies is the amount of oil that could be drilled weighed against the potential devastation to the habitat that could occur.
After spending large spans of time in the Refuge and actually walking the entire 60 miles of the 1002, Rigby was a firm believer that the world would benefit more from keeping places such as the 1002 wild and open then it would from trying to squeeze a relatively small amount of oil from its depths.
“We’ve got to keep talking about it and writing about it,” she said on Tuesday when asked how people could help the cause to keep it wild.
Putting it all in perspective related to her ski life, Rigby added that public figures such as herself are inadvertently responsible for setting the example and leading the charge in efforts such as keeping the 1002 pristine. By leading expeditions to the tops of peaks and glaciers, people such as Rigby get others to take notice of an area.
“It might just be the peak that inspires everyone to soar,” she concluded.
The next installment of Adventure takes place on Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 6:30 p.m. at Eagle Lodge. The featured speaker will be filmmaker Steven Bumgardner, “Glaciers, Granite and Ganja Gardens: Natural history filmmaking on the edge.” The series runs through March 5.