Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program
Paul Roderick

Paul Roderick was interviewed on June 8, 2000 by Dave Krupa at the main headquarters of Talkeetna Air Taxi in Talkeetna, Alaska. On the day of the interview, poor weather made it possible for Paul to take a short time out of his busy day to reflect on flying in one of the world's most dynamic and perilous environments. In this interview, Paul talks about how he has gotten to know the Alaska Range as a pilot, the special challenges of mountain flying and glacier landings, and the ways that being a climber helps him in his work. Paul gives us an inside view of how climbers and pilots coordinate their efforts, both in the "routine" of put-ins and take-outs, but also in emergency situations. He shares some insights about how he copes with the dangers and deaths that inevitably come with mountaineering and bush flying.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2000-17-09

Project: Denali Mountaineering
Date of Interview: Jun 8, 2000
Narrator(s): Paul Roderick
Interviewer(s): David Krupa
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
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1) Personal background

2) His motivation to move to Alaska, and flying in the Alaska Range

3) Learning to understand glaciers and glacier landings

4) Getting to know a mountain range

5) Flying in climbers

6) How being a climber helps a pilot

7) Getting stranded on a glacier

8) Emergency readiness

9) Working with climbers

10) Examples of his good timing

11) How pilots and climbers coordinate pick-up dates and rescues

12) How the National Park Service deals with emergencies and large numbers of mountaineers

13) How he balances climbing and piloting and dealing with death

14) Some exceptional climbs

15) His future goals

16) Feelings on Alaska

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Section 1: pilot\ climber\ weather\ flying\ Connecticut\ farm -- small\ airplanes -- interest\ birthday -- tenth\ lessons -- flight\ university -- aviation\ Emby-Riddle Aeronautical University\ education -- bachelor's degree\ Aeronautical Science\ flying\ Grand Canyon\ rock climbing\ mountaineering\ Sierra Mountains\ flight -- instructor\ travel -- world\ climbing\ Alaska\ Talkeetna, AK\ guide -- hunting\ ticket -- plane|

Section 2: Alaska -- motivation\ flying\ climbing\ airplane -- skis\ flying -- glaciers\ landing -- lakes\ Talkeetna, AK\ Lee, Dave\ Denali\ Talkeetna Air Taxi\ climbers\ expedition -- Denali\ flight -- instructing\ pilot -- bush\ guides -- hunting\ flying -- mountain\ area -- unique\ unclimbed\ Talkeetna Mountains\ Alaska Range\ Ruth Gorge -- scale\ faces -- granite\ exploration\ landing -- skis\ exploring|

Section 3: landings -- glacier\ Alaska\ Kahiltna Glacier\ Ruth Glacier\ landing -- slope\ markers\ landings -- difficulty\ snow -- deep\ strips -- pioneering\ insight -- experiences\ location -- remote\ Alaska -- uniqueness\ Hayes Range\ weather -- consequences\ landing -- variables|

Section 4: dynamics\ size\ weather -- changing\ light -- changing\ approach -- standard\ contact\ basecamp\ climbers\ Kahiltna -- infrastructure\ Ruth Gorge\ area -- unexplored\ plans -- back up\ Denali -- climbing\ National Park Service\ communication -- e-mail\ Europe\ carabiners\ ice screws\ mystery\ shuttle -- train\ check-in\ gear -- weight\ tags|

Section 5: airplane -- Cessna 185\ airplane -- Beaver\ skis -- hydraulic\ Beaver -- size\ doors -- huge\ Cessna 185 -- speed\ weather -- information\ trends\ observation\ town -- overlook\ Kahiltna -- Black Creek Summit\ clouds -- height\ fog -- glaciers\ basecamp Annie\ basecamp Lisa\ phone\ flying -- instrumental\ illegal\ flying -- visual\ flight -- commercial\ GPS|

Section 6: Kahiltna -- crux\ conditions\ flight\ glaciers -- slope\ Kahiltna icefall\ glacier -- rises\ warm air -- condensation\ fog -- dissipate\ propeller -- movement\ wind\ climbing -- experience\ flying -- contribution\ conditions -- sight\ sustrugi\ landing -- sideways\ snow -- deep\ pioneering -- markers\ trash bags\ rocks\ indication -- depth\ indication -- wind\ perspective -- ground\ routes -- observing\ competition\ insight|

Section 7: glaciers -- hanging\ snow -- unstable\ airplane\ serac -- break\ close calls\ awareness -- appearances\ pilot -- exploring\ areas -- new\ landing -- possible\ Revelation Glacier\ plans -- back up\ situation -- stranded\ Hayes Range\ steep \ crevasses\ supplies -- shuttle\ snow -- mire\ skis--sinking\ prop -- bent\ stranded -- glacier\ sleep -- plane|

Section 8: supplies -- emergency\ stove\ fuel\ food\ sleeping bag\ situation -- scary\ trouble -- in-flight\ basecamp\ glacier -- end\ climbers -- relationship\ care -- checking\ accidents\ situation -- critical\ insight -- possibilities\ experience -- conditions\ snow\ rock\ time\ climbing -- world|

Section 9: work -- percentages\ business -- climbing\ tours -- scenic\ climbing -- interest\ money -- tours\ fun\ bush pilots\ climbers\ adventure\ work\ society -- movement\ problems -- dissipate\ injury -- distraction\ mountains -- insight\ project -- challenge\ climbing -- timeless\ expedition -- part\ element -- creative\ pick up\ weather -- bad\ effort\ bond|

Section 10: situations -- particular\ climbers -- trouble\ Ruth Gorge -- drop\ Little Switzerland -- pick up\ Donini, Jim\ Daly, Malcolm\ maintenance -- high\ gas -- gallon\ crampons -- broken\ landed\ partner\ fall -- leader\ weather -- shut down\ feet -- damaged\ fall --helicopter rescue\ concessions -- coordination\ competition -- serious\ climbers -- pick up\ family -- tight\ flying|

Section 11: climbers -- ready\ basecamp -- call\ glaciers -- other\ date -- set\ arrival \ climbers -- sleeping\ weather\ camp -- broken\ tent -- pack\ sleeping bag\ weather -- situation\ aviation -- world\ schedule\ National Park Service -- relationship\ situation -- touchy\ air service -- excluding\ rescues\ National Park Service -- authority\ communication\ regulations\ glacier -- landing\ use -- commercial\ glaciers\ vehicles -- motorized\ permits\ fees\ regulated\ Kahiltna Glacier\ pressure\ operations -- shut down\ lifestyle|

Section 12: rescue\ mountain -- tragedy\ aircraft\ wings -- fixed\ companies -- private\ helicopter -- Lama\ National Park Service -- justification\ politics\ staff -- great\ safety\ dollars -- tax\ infrastructure\ Iraq -- bombing\ popularity -- growing\West Buttress -- route\ pilot\ mountains -- surrounding\ stable\ peaks -- difficult\ rock climbing\ cragging\ top rope\ schools -- mountaineering\ courses -- good\ growing -- fast\ Alaska Range\ impact -- low\ considerations -- ethical\ Denali -- numbers\ stabilized -- cap|

Section 13: season -- balance\ energy\ climbing -- business\ conflict\ travel\ Nepal\ New Zealand\ Tibet\ Talkeetna, AK\ mountains -- daunting\ Alaska Range\ peaks -- satellite\ mountaineering -- skiing\ project -- day\ plane -- camping\ lunch -- supplies\ glacier\ teams\ members -- lost\ friends -- death\ Alaska -- death\ attitude -- death\ Los Angeles, CA\ car -- wreck\ climbers -- grieving\ compassion\ expedition -- morale|

Section 14: expeditions -- exceptional\ flying -- support\ achievements -- climbing\ Shineworn?, Barry\ Lowe, Alex\ Chabot, Doug\ Mt. Huntington -- route\ climbing -- mixed\ Bridwell, Jim\ Moose's Tooth -- East Face\ super-human\ energy -- creative\ climb\ scope -- possibility\ Stump, Mugs|

Section 15: climbing -- direction\ Tundra Air Taxi -- future\ planning -- dreams\ situation -- current\ observation\ climbing\ time -- off\ altitude -- high\ Tibet\ rock climbing\ peak -- satellite\ service -- air\ growth -- pace\ planes -- bigger\ company -- size\ exchange\ business -- flow\ marketing -- creative\ people -- working\ relationships|

Section 16: Denali -- attraction\ Alaska Range\ expectations -- fulfilled\ Talkeetna, AK\ people -- flow\ people -- new\ creativity\ action\ plane\ areas -- beautiful\ town -- small\ people -- fresh\ plane|