Author Fredston rows Alaska and the Arctic

Posted: Thursday, October 11, 2001

Big bears, sudden storms and lasting companionship have marked Jill Fredston's adventures in Arctic waters. Fredston will be in Juneau this weekend to talk about her new book, "Rowing to Latitude," and will show slides of her travels rowing up the coasts of Alaska, Greenland and Norway.

Fredston will deliver her presentation from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at Hearthside Books in the Nugget Mall. There is no charge.

Fredston and husband Doug Fesler live near Anchorage and work as professional avalanche specialists. Every summer they take to the water in rowing kayaks for three- to five-month trips.

They've covered more than 20,000 miles, including the entire Inside Passage, the Arctic coast of Alaska and the entire Yukon and Mackenzie rivers from source to sea. They've rowed up the west coast of Greenland, the east coast of Canada and the entire coastline of Norway.

In her book, Fredston puts the reader in her rowing shell and on Arctic beaches with polar and brown bears. Her first-person accounts combine adventure narrative, personal essay and travelogue.

Fredston began rowing when she was 10 and living on Long Island Sound. She came to Alaska in the early 1980s and began working in avalanche safety. The Inside Passage from Seattle to Skagway was her first major trip.

Fredston and Fesler wrote a book on mountaineering, "Snow Sense," and as codirectors of the Alaska Mountain Safety Center they provide training, avalanche hazard evaluation and mountain rescue training. They have been featured in Nova and Discovery Channel documentaries, and they served as coordinators for stunts and mountain safety for the films "Seven Years in Tibet" and "Avalanche."

Fredston is currently in the midst of a West Coast tour. Susan Hickey of Hearthside Books said Fredston will talk about her book and also show slides of her travels.

"She just had her signing at Cook Inlet (bookstore) in Anchorage and they told her it was one of the biggest crowds they ever had," Hickey said.

"Rowing to Latitude" is published by North Point Press and costs $24.

Riley Woodford can be reached at

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