Dangers of Baranof Island

Posted: Monday, July 23, 2001

Contrary to some news stories about the large group that just attempted to cross Baranof Island, there is no trail across the island, only a trail from Medvedje Lake to another lake about four miles in. The sizable glacier on Mount Bassie was left off the USGS topo maps and all other maps. I informed USGS of this and received a letter acknowledging the error and saying it will be corrected if new maps are made. No new maps have been made since the 1960s. That glacier is breaking up and has become more dangerous to cross. People crossing snow-covered, crevassed glaciers should be roped up.

Once while traveling in dense fog we encountered a cliff in the glacier. Fog is extremely common in the area and should be expected. Hikers need to know how to navigate in the fog, although it's more difficult when the maps are wrong.

I've crossed the island there six times, including four trips guiding for Alaska Discovery in the 1980s and with friends in 1998. Dense fog was encountered each time. I would not consider leading a group of the type and size that just attempted the trip.

Judy Brakel


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